It’s 6AM. It’s a beautiful day outside. We’d say that birds are singing and flowers are blooming, but it’s Cleveland so we know that’s just untrue information. On days like these, you wouldn’t expect someone to show up for work at their professional wrestling arena so early that it defies reason.
Unfortunately, reason is out for breakfast. Please come back at a later time if you need reason.
A rental car has the pick of the litter in terms of a solid parking spot, and chooses the closest one to the arena without being in the handicapped zone. Coral Avalon gets out of the car, and pulls his duffel bag out with him. Nervously, he takes a look around to make sure there’s no one whose name is very similar to Carcer Giles before he locks his doors.
No sooner is his rental car safe, secured, and locked does he turn around and hear a word of complaint from a person who seems to have apparated into existence just off-camera.
Cancer Jiles: MotherFUCKER.
Coral winces. It’s the very man he arrived painfully early just to avoid.
Coral Avalon: What? No horse?
Cancer Jiles: I just stepped in gum.
Jiles, who is acting as if he has yet to see Coral, finally looks up and flinches.
It’s a big forehead.
Cancer Jiles: Oh! Shit. I didn’t even see you there! It was like my life flashed before my eyes. Give me a moment, would you. That was close. You’ve got to stop sneaking up on me like that.
The former Universal Champion catches his breath and takes a second to relax now that he’s survived yet another impromptu life or death encounter with Coral’s forehead.
Meanwhile Coral remains unamused.
Cancer Jiles: So? What can I do for you? I could have sworn I told you that we’ll review your application and then get back to you.
Coral tries to answer, but Cancer just steamrolls right on by him.
Cancer Jiles: I do appreciate the gesture, though. It’s cute. Trying to impress your potential boss by beating him to work.
A cricket hops on by.
Coral Avalon: …I feel like I say this a lot when I’m around you, but you’ve got to be kidding me. How? Why? Since when did you show up for work this early? I thought you hated this place!
He means PRIME, not Cleveland. A disdain for Cleveland is really more of a resting state.
Cancer Jiles: I don’t know if you’ve heard but people are calling me the hardest working man in PRIME these days. Can’t let them down. I am a company man.
The Crownless King looks around as if he’s being pranked.
Coral Avalon: What people? Name one.
Cancer Jiles: Elo.
Coral Avalon: Who is Elo? Another Bandit in training?
A smile comes across Cancer’s clean shaven face.
Cancer Jiles: Good question. Some might call him the paper trail. Others might claim he’s PRIME’s fax machine. Either way, he says I’m PRIME’s working class hero therefore I am.
Coral Avalon: Sure thing. Hopefully I get to meet him one day.
The COOLYPIAN snickers, and then mutters under his breath while also being loud enough for the passengers on a nearby subway car to hear.
Cancer Jiles: scroll down and say hello then.
Coral Avalon: What was that? You want me to withdraw my application?
Cancer Jiles: I didn’t say anything. Now be a good sport and grab my bag for me. It’s the yolk colored Eggland’s Best duffel with the shell proof side pockets. Just like yours. I want to hurry up and get the good locker room before those Glue crumbs take it.
Coral stares at Jiles for a long moment.
Coral Avalon: You do realize I’m not your errand boy, right? I haven’t carried bags for anyone since, like, 2002. Well, other than my wife.
Cancer Jiles: Fine. I’ll do it then. Coral. Here I thought you were trying to brown nose so I was being a nice guy, but no. I’ll carry it like I’m some crumb Night One act.
A heavy scoff.
Coral remains unencumbered.
Cancer Jiles: I’ll tell you this though, you better hope that when we get in there Cecil isn’t sitting in MY ice bath reading the Fancy Lad Times. If so, automatically de-nied.
The Maestro puts an emphatic stamp on the air around him, just like he would on Coral’s application if he were to cause him to miss out on the good locker room.
Coral Avalon: Fingers crossed, but never in my life have I been more looking forward to seeing Cecilworth Farthington than I am and ever will be than I am right now.
A whimper from the King of COOL.
Cancer Jiles: I’m putting that in your file.
Whether either of them realize it, both Cancer and Coral wind up traversing the parking lot while casually cracking each other’s eggs. They reach the talent entrance to the arena, and in his most sarcastic of tones and mannerisms, Coral reaches out and opens the door for Jiles.
Coral Avalon: After you, boss.
Cancer Jiles: That’s more like it.
We then cut to the…
You would think ringside. Because this is the cold open and we always go to a match. Except, people thought they were cute and wanted another cool open.
So we cut from…
…that rousing start to a night of good old-fashioned sanctioned violence and buffoonery, to a place and time that offers more of both.
Even the casual viewer will notice the EARLIER TODAY (but not earlier than 6am, but before the show starts) graphic festooned in the top left of the screen.
Your garden variety big mammerjammer of a pop lets loose as HBIC Lindsay Troy’s face appears on camera. She glowers ahead, and despite all the hooting, not from owls, and indeed a great deal of hollering from fans in the arena, she seems to be possessed of a barely contained rage.
Lindsay Troy: I have one question: Are. You. Freaking. Kidding. Me?
The camera pans back to show her seated at her desk, but it doesn’t yet reveal who she’s got such vitriol for.
Lindsay Troy: (pre-empts any response) Don’t answer that question. I want you to silently reflect on whether or not you are, in fact, freaking kidding me. Don’t say anything. Just do me the favor of looking like two people who are thinking about the migraine you have caused me.
While we still haven’t seen the two people in question, we’re getting warmer on the answer of who she could be referring to.
Lindsay Troy: (turns to her left) I don’t know why I thought you’d know better, but seriously? Do not respond. (turns to her right) And I’m stone cold certain you know better, but have made it your life’s work to see how quickly you can turn every hair on my head gray. Do NOT respond.
The camera begins a slow pan outward.
Lindsay Troy: So tell me, one more time, why it is that Dam dropped not only an impressive amount of contraband on my doorstep, but also you two incompetent children who he said gave him, “more trouble than a gator with a toothache?”
And now, the camera flips around entirely and, shot from the side, shows all three figures involved. The two incompetent children in question are, respectively:
Tony Gamble. The crowd virulently boos, loud enough to feel it in your temples anywhere in the arena, while somewhere a small syndicate of
incelsmen heartily cheer.
Chandler Tsonda. The crowd lets rip with a megaton pop that causes Cleveland to register a miniscule, but scientifically knowable, earthquake.
It is also now clear that there is a great deal of, well, stuff behind Lindsay Troy’s desk. It’s not clear why. A very disappointed looking Enemigo stands guard over the stack of disallowed items.
Nova and Sonny Silver would be proud.
Chandler Tsonda: (very cautiously, at a whisper) Do we talk yet? By the way, fuck you Gamble, you rotten little parmesan bitch.
Tony Gamble: (whispering back) Go Pho kyerself, Tussonda, you spoiled little priss. You’re a huge prick, and I’ve been watching TikTok to learn the moves I’m going to bust out when I dance on your grave.
Troy raises a finger and both men stop. It’s like having two very-well trained dogs.
Lindsay Troy: So many words. And yet, no one is saying why I am looking at this.
From behind her desk, she pulls out of the great pile of things: a gleaming well-polished sword. Already, she hears TAL’s footsteps running down the hall as he logs into Jabber.
Chandler Tsonda silently raises his hand.
Lindsay Troy: (losing patience) Chan Chan, do not screw me around.
Chandler Tsonda: OK, so, the sword is mine. But I do have a good, sober reason for bringing it here. (nods towards Gamble) I was going to slit his tires, and maybe, just for a little laugh, take the hand of one of his idiot cronies who stomped my shit in last week. But just a hand!
Lindsay Troy: (pulls another item from the pile) So this is yours too?
It’s a tube of some kind in military green. It’s about three feet long, but clearly has some kind of trigger apparatus.
Tony Gamble: No, that one’s mine.
Lindsay Troy: Do I want to know what it is?
Tony Gamble: That…depends. If it were an army surplus flamethrower, would you want to know that? Because if not, it’s a, uh, whadayacallit, a fidget spinner.
Lindsay Troy: What the fuck is wrong with you?
Chandler Tsonda: If I may…
Lindsay Troy: No. You may not.
The head of PRIME pinches the bridges of her nose and mutters something under her breath, probably something about the truly thankless job of being in charge of this place. Then she starts pointing to random things in the pile.
Lindsay Troy: That?
Chandler Tsonda: Chloroform rag.
Lindsay Troy: This?
Tony Gamble: 12-pack of poison-laced lime Lacroix.
Chandler Tsonda: God, you’re a fucking sicko. I would never drink anything but peach-pear.
The President and CEO once again raises her finger, and quiet reigns again.
Lindsay Troy: We’re resuming the “do not speak unless spoken to” etiquette. My final question, and I already regret it, is what is in this box.
She gestures with both hands towards a sealed wooden box. In the pile of what are almost exclusively weapons of mid-grade destruction, it stands out as looking pretty harmless. Lindsay Troy points to the Model Citizen, giving him permission to speak.
Chandler Tsonda: It’s too small for Gamble’s Napoleon complex, but waaaaay too big for his talent. Sorry, sorry. I’m following the rules. No idea. Honest.
She gives him a look that says “even if I sort of like you, not today, partner.” Lindsay now points to Tony Gamble for the same reason.
Tony Gamble: Easy, the box is empty.
Lindsay Troy: Scarface, why is the box empty?
Tony Gamble: It’s a decoy box so Dam wouldn’t find the real one. Hello, I’m not a complete idiot.
Lindsay Troy: Make no mistake, you still are. Where’s the real one?
Tony Gamble: Depends. (looks down at his watch) Frank and Dom might be running late, so it’s either just outside the arena, or currently sneaking in the back of the arena. Allegedly, that is.
Lindsay Troy: The next words out of your grinny little mouth are going to be answers to my questions.
Tony Gamble: Sheesh, this place used to be fun. When Devin was around, we tried to kill each other on every show.
Lindsay Troy: (interjecting, scowling) When Devin was around, this place reeked of black nail polish and sadness. Plus he ran PRIME into the ground, didn’t pay people for a year, and the company almost died. You want that again?
Tony Gamble: …fine. You make a fair point. If you really need to know, the box has scorpions in it, OK? And if it weren’t narc city here, those scorpions would already be in Tussonda’s duffel bag. With any luck, he’d be halfway into toxic shock. Cancel culture is making life really boring these last few years.
This, it turns out, is the final straw for the patient-to-a-point Troy.
Lindsay Troy: I’ve heard enough. Seen enough. You’re just…I need you out of this office.
Tony Gamble: Say no more boss. I’ll just grab my fidget spinner and be on m—
Lindsay Troy: (cuts Gamble off) Because I am in charge of this place, a place you two goons were clearly going to turn into a warzone while trying to kill each other, here is how we’re going to deal with the Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber saga.
The Sultan of Style looks on the verge of saying something. He is nearly falling out of his chair, visibly biting his lip.
Lindsay Troy: Chandler, if you ask me which of you is Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber, I will make you wrestle Helen in the Roller Cage at Colossus.
He puts his hands up very innocently, as if to say: “Fair enough.”
Lindsay Troy: Punishment #1: you’re banned from physical contact with one another. If I can’t trust you not to shoot poison darts at one another, then you’ll operate on nursery school hands-to-yourself rules.
You can actually see Chandler Tsonda shaking from the effort to bite his tongue. Tony Gamble yawns, and does a “ok, wrap it up” gesture.
Lindsay Troy: Punishment #2: you deal with (gestures vaguely at their toxic masculinity and inability to solve any problems except with fists or weapons) all this by facing each other at UltraViolence. The ban on physical contact is lifted when the bell rings for your match.
Both men, with similar aims, smirk at the thought of maiming the other under the bright lights.
Lindsay Troy: You both have big matches tonight. I’m sure Adam Ellis and FLAMBERGE will be looking to deliver their own punishment to you boys. Any questions?
There is just a little enjoyment in the smile that crosses the Queen of the Ring’s face, as she underscores the challenges ahead in Gamble and Tsonda’s respective title matches. Maybe the matches aren’t punishments, per se, but they ain’t Friday afternoon at the happiness factory either.
Chandler Tsonda: OK, so let’s say I am diagnosed with a terminal illness. And I work with the Make-A-Wish foundation to secure one final joy on this mortal plane. And my greatest wish is to just rock Gamble right in his stupid little pig face. Hypothetically speaking, would this be permissible under the ban on… (sees the face Troy is making) no, you know what, no questions, I’m good.
Tony Gamble: (gestures behind Troy) You throwing that stuff in the lost and found?
Lindsay Troy: You two were just leaving. (points to the door) Bye bye, goobers.
The two men both push in their chairs and walk towards the door. Of course, both at the door, they are very close to one another, so they show a real respect for the decorum of the office and an understanding of what mistakes they’ve made thus far.
Just kidding, they are both flipping birds at each other as they exit, though they are technically not making any physical contact. The camera stays with the steel door, which closes behind them.
Lindsay leans back in her chair and groans.
Lindsay Troy: It’s times like this that I really hate being the Boss and not being able to punch everyone here. You know?
Enemigo XXI nods and offers her a comforting pat on the shoulder.
Lindsay Troy: Thank you. Can you ask Dam to come in here? We need to get rid of all this.
Another nod from Enemigo XXI, who takes his leave. Lindsay looks at all the contraband and grabs the sword and flamethrower.
Lindsay Troy: (shaking her head) Idiots.
On that note, we head to the ring and give Lindsay Troy some level of peace. For now.
We cut to ringside!
ALIAS TITLE: TONY GAMBLE (C) VS. ADAM ELLIS
Before we get going though, we’ve got some signs to read and this time, Craig did put the signs in before the show (we hope):
Nick Stuart: Our first match this evening is a title match, and I think it’s going to be a good one, Richard.
Richard Parker: Of course it is, because Tony Gamble is involved!
Vince Howard: The following match is one fall and is for the ALIAS CHAMPIONSHIP! Introducing first, hailing from Warrensburg, Missouri… ADAM! ELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLIS!
Garrett Biggs’ “Mama Didn’t Raise No…” plays over the sound system and on the video screen, a video plays showing a series of wrestling trophies on a dresser next to an old high school football uniform that has ‘Ellis’ on the back.
An acoustic guitar plays and the vocals begin.
“Mama didn’t raise no… quitter- guaranteed to get the job done.”
Adam Ellis and Ginny Van Lear walk out from the back hand in hand and stand on the stage.
“She didn’t raise no SOB who that can’t back himself up – been known to throw a good punch.”
The video screen shows a series of action shots of Ellis from his various matches
“And this ol’ boy gets going when the going gets tough- sundown to sun up.”
Dressed in a t-shirt, jeans, and her feet wrapped in tape the former MMA prodigy nods her head causing her bright red hair to flip, and raises her left hand…
“Need a man with a helping hand – he’s always got one to lend.”
…and then brings it down as the chorus and full instrumentation hits- complete with pyro.
“Oh, I might be a little rough around the edges”
Adam’s wearing a pair of plain blue wrestling shorts. He starts forward down the ramp towards the ring followed by Van Lear.
“From the outside lookin’ in it might seem helpless.”
The couple reaches the ring. Adam holds the rope open so Ginny can slide through.
“I’ve been blessed with a strong backbone – I never coulda made it on my own”
Adam joins her in the ring.
“But if there’s one thing that I know – Momma didn’t raise no…”
Adam climbs up the top turnbuckle and holds up his arms.
Where my heart is, rests my very soulAnd the colors bleed from blue to gold
“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.
When the choice is mine and mine alone
I won’t give in even if you break my bones
Vince Howard: Comi–
Johnnie Newsman: I am so so sorry, really I am, but you can no do. Thees ees my job now, Vinny.
I won’t give in ’till your sins have been atoned
All I see is the flickering lights below me
Tony stretches his arms out wide, welcoming the crowd’s form of adoration as Johnnie continues to speak and his music plays. The Gamble Championship fastened firmly around his waist.
All I need is the power to change what I see
If I can give a little, not a second thought
Johnnie Newsman: Coming to your ring, with weight of one hundred and thee eighty nine pounds of lean, healthy muskulls on a man.
If I’m stuck in the middle, I will take the shot, woah
All I wanna be, yeah
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.
Yeah, I was born for this
I will keep my secrets high above
Johnnie Newsman: He thee capotabola!
In the hopes to protect the ones I love
But I wonder where in darkness lies the truth
Johnnie Newsman: Number won in your heart!
Of the one who took their lives, you can’t excuse
I don’t fear you, I won’t let you take my home
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, even more so as he slaps the face of the title a few times.
I will climb through to wherever you may roam
I won’t give in, you can even break my bones
Johnnie Newsman: Only man to half title with his name!
What is within is a strength you’ll never know
Johnnie Newsman: TOOOOOOOOOOOONYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!
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: THEEEEE GRRRRRRIIIINNNNNNNN!!
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, unfastening the Gamble Championship from around his waist as he does.
Johnnie Newsman: GAAAAAAAAMMBLLLLLLEEEEE!!
All I wanna be, yeah
He stretches his arms out once again, then throws back his head to stare at the title he lifts up above his head.
Yeah, I was born for this
After that… ridiculousness… Jimmy Turnbull hands the Championship to the timekeeper and then signals for the start of the match.
Nick Stuart: All right here we go, another great night of wrestling kicked off with a title match! Adam Ellis has been on a bit of a heater lately, and now he gets his shot at Tony Gamble’s belt!
Richard Parker: Go Tony! I adore you!
Nick Stuart: You’re going to do that every time?
Richard Parker: I signed a contract.
Adam Ellis immediately charges at Gamble, who rolls out of the way and smiles, wagging his finger at Ellis. The fans begin to boo as Ellis goes in for a grapple, which The Grin ducks under and smiles again. This really causes the fans to go at him, which ends up working in Ellis’s favor as Gamble is too distracted to see a dropkick.
Nick Stuart: Gamble couldn’t evade him for long!
Gamble rolls to his feet, but he’s slower this time – getting kicked in the face tends to do that to you. Because of this, he can’t evade Ellis, who grabs him and whips him over in a snap suplex. He immediately mounts Gamble and begins assaulting him with closed fists.
Nick Stuart: Adam Ellis is starting off strong! The last champion didn’t have a single successful defense — will Gamble be the same?
Richard Parker: Absolutely not! I didn’t sign up to be part of his adoration society just for him to drop the title to the first person he faces.
Nick Stuart: If I recall correctly, you signed up before the Alias title was revealed.
Richard Parker: What are you, my biographer?
Adam Ellis finally stops his assault on Gamble, sending one last punch to the face for good measure. Ellis stands up, pumping his fists and getting the fans to cheer.
Nick Stuart: Adam Ellis is fired up! He’s ready for this title opportunity!
Gamble rolls over to his stomach, checking his face for blood. He sees the ropes and begins moving towards them, but Ellis stops him with an elbow drop to the back. He rolls Tony over and goes for the cover.
Gamble kicks out. Ellis stands up and grabs Gamble’s head and pulls him up by his hair, then pushes him against the ropes. He attempts an Irish whip, but Gamble reverses it, then puts his leg out as he whips Ellis, causing the younger man to trip and crash onto the canvas.
Richard Parker: That was a pretty cool reversal!
Nick Stuart: A little dirty, but not illegal. Count on Tony Gamble to always find a way to change the momentum of a match, within and without the confines of rules.
Richard Parker: That’s a lot of words to say he’s smart!
Before Ellis can get up, Gamble jumps on him and starts to lock up his arms, then reaches towards his face.
Nick Stuart: He’s looking for Smile for Me this early! Could he put it away?
No, dummy. It’s been like three minutes. Ellis kicks his legs, twisting his body to escape the move. He gets to his feet slowly but gets poked in the eye by Gamble, then sent to the ground with a DDT.
Richard Parker: God I adore this guy.
Nick Stuart: Gamble with a quick cover!
Ellis powers out of the pin and rolls to his feet, then delivers a nasty clothesline that levels Gamble.
Nick Stuart: This one is back and forth in the early part of this match, and…wait, something’s happening in the crowd!
There is a lot of cheering and murmuring towards the front row of the crowd, and as the camera pans over it’s plain to see why. Chandler Tsonda is sitting down in a front row seat. He has a guava seltzer water in his hand, and the other hand is holding up a middle finger towards Tony Gamble.
Nick Stuart: Well we’ve got a special guest in the crowd tonight!
Richard Parker: Ugh, that beautiful bastard better not try to interfere!
As of now, it seems that he is not. However, his presence alone is distraction enough for Tony Gamble to become unnerved, pointing and jawing at The Model Citizen. Tsonda smiles and, without removing his lips from his drink, points behind Gamble.
Nick Stuart: Gamble is distracted, and Adam Ellis took advantage! Ellis just hit Gamble with a huge German suplex, and he’s bridging the pin!
Nick Stuart: That was just in the nick of time!
Richard Parker: Throw Tsonda out! Fine him! Ban him! SEND HIM TO BOLIVIA!
Ellis is quick to keep on the pressure, locking Gamble up in his modified STF. Gamble starts screaming, reaching for the ropes, but he’s a healthy way away. He’s in pain, but as he tries to escape, his eyes settle on someone, and what happens next may be the most impressive thing that Tony Gamble has ever done.
Sure, he’s won Jewel in the Crown, and multiple titles…but before today, he’s never hit on another man’s wife while that man’s arms are firmly around his neck.
Tony Gamble: Hey…Ginny…lookin’ good.
The words are coming out slow, but both Ginny and Ellis can hear them fine. Ellis grits his teeth and continues to wrench on the hold.
Tony Gamble: Is this…all the strength he’s got? Man…you must be so bored…in the bedroom.
Ginny yells, and now so is Adam, furiously trying to pull harder on the hold.
Tony Gamble: Maybe that’s why you bring…a gun everywhere. Must want…anything to feel…dangerous around this…lump.
Finally Adam lets go of the hold and begins to kick at Gamble, causing him to roll into the corner. When Ellis tries to follow him, Gamble grabs the ropes and ducks his head away, causing referee Jimmy Turnbull to step between the two men. And as Turnbull moves out of the way once Adam Ellis backs up a step, Gamble reaches up and rakes Ellis’s eyes.
Nick Stuart: Oh come on!
Richard Parker: (slow, steady clap) Bravo, Gamble. Bravo.
Chandler Tsonda, for his part, is still here, and he is shouting at Gamble in the ring.
Chandler Tsonda: You didn’t get enough of that eye rake, Tony. Next time make sure your fingers are bent about five degrees tighter.
Gamble smiles and rushes forward, grabbing Adam Ellis and hitting him with his patented Front Russian Leg Sweep.
Nick Stuart: Stop Laughing at Me! Tony Gamble grabs Adam Ellis, and he’s looking for Smile For Me again! Ellis is far from the ropes, if he gets it locked in this is over!
And after a quick transition to the ground, Gamble is able to get it locked in. Ellis tries to escape, but it’s looking grim. And after a moment, Tsonda recognizes that as well.
Richard Parker: No! You stop that! Stay in your chair!
Nick Stuart: Well the madness continues. Here comes Chandler Tsonda!
But as Tsonda jumps the barricade, he does not go towards the ring. Instead, he walks over to timekeeper and grabs the object next to it – the Alias Title.
Gamble, who has dealt with Tsonda’s taunts in stride during this match, suddenly finds his presence less amusing.
Nick Stuart: Well, Tsonda is admiring himself in the reflection of Gamble’s Alias Title, and Gamble is not pleased at all!
Richard Parker: Of course not! Tsonda hasn’t watched his hands! It’s getting all smudgy!
Ellis is still fighting, but Gamble is less focused on the hold and more focused on Tsonda, which causes him to relax his grip a bit. This lets Adam move his legs in the direction of the ropes, giving him juuuust enough room to hang his foot on the bottom rope.
Nick Stuart: Turnbull sees him on the ropes, he’s calling for the rope break! But Gamble isn’t letting go!
Richard Parker: He’s angry, and he should be! He should have this match won!
Turnbull tells Gamble to let go, but Gamble won’t. He won’t break his stare with Chandler Tsonda, either. Turnbull then resorts to counting.
Nick Stuart: If Turnbull gets to five, Tony will be DQ’d!
FI…nally Tony lets go of the hold. Gamble rolls out of the ring and walks over to Chandler Tsonda, but Tsonda is already jumping back over the ramp and sitting down.
Chandler Tsonda: Don’t spill the guava seltzer.
Gamble fumes, then gets back into the ring to grab Ellis. However, before he can, Ellis grabs Gamble and rolls him up in a small package.
Nick Stuart: Adam Ellis almost had him! We almost had a new champion!
Both men pop up at the same time, but Ellis is a little quicker, and he gets Tony with the Superman punch.
Nick Stuart: Superman punch! And now he’s going to be looking for the Elevated Boston Crab! Ellis is grabbing the legs!
Richard Parker: Do something Tony! Do something!
Tony must have heard Richard, because with his waning strength, he does decide to do something. Freeing one leg, he kicks Adam Ellis, hard, in an uncomfortable place.
Nick Stuart: Low blow! How did Turnbull miss it!
Richard Parker: Go Tony go!
Gamble reaches up, grabs Ellis, and pulls him over in a small package, with Gamble grabbing the tights for good measure.
Nick Stuart: He’s got the tights! He’s got the tights!
Nick Stuart: Come on, look at the tights!
DING DING DING
Richard Parker: Hahahahahaha YES!
Vince Howard: Your winner, and STILL Alias Champion…TOOOONNNNNYYYYYY GAAAAAAMBLLLLLEEEEEEE!
Nick Stuart: Adam Ellis was so close to becoming the new Alias Champion, but Tony Gamble did what he always does – squeaks by with cheating!
Richard Parker: And that’s what I adore about him!
We then cut to a pre-taped segment.
COMMERCIAL: 24 HOUR RULE
BRO, WE’RE NUMBER ONE!
We cut to a close up shot of a pair of black leather loafers and bedazzled purple. As the camera slowly panned up to reveal that the black loafers belonged to the weathered old U.N. Couth. Meanwhile the bedazzled purple crocs were attached to the two month old Max Kael?.
To be rest assured, they were also wearing clothes. Couth wore a deep blue 80ies style power suit complete with two inch thick shoulder pads. She has a long cigarette holder clenched between her teeth which was indeed holding a smoldering cigarette. Max was in his wrestling gear minus his boots and kickpads, obvs. There is an awkward, silent few seconds before the camera operator clears their throat.
U.N. Couth: Are we live?!
The camera motioned up and down to the affirmation.
U.N. Couth: Oh. Shit.
The hag pinched the cherry of her cigarette snuffing it out before handing the holder to Max.
U.N. Couth: Hold that for mama. Ke..KE..KAFF KAFF!
The woman lets out a ragged cough which causes her whole body to shutter. Max didn’t seem concerned as he examined the cigarette holder like a toddler enjoying the jingle jangle of a set of keys. As Couth rights herself she fixes her eyes on the camera.
U.N. Couth: Hello cash-money hunnies, U.N. Couth here, the legal representative and handler for PRIME Superstar, Max Kael?! In just one week we jumped from being the seven A segment spot to the coveted first segment!
Kael furrows his brow and thinks on that for a brief moment.
Max Kael?: I think you want the Cold Opening or the close of the show, those are the two most coveted spots. Or In-Rings. Pretty sure this is going to be pre-recorded anyway, it’s Wednesday and the show is on Friday.. so..
U.N. Couth: ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?
Max Kael?: I wish I was. The good news is that I’m probably taking a nap right now. Max loves his nappies.
Couth stared at Max who went back to examining the cigarette holder. Huffing angrily Couth turned her attention back to the camera.
U.N. Couth: Well if Max Kael? can’t even score a live segment then guess what? Nobody gets to hear his beautiful, golden voice! No Promos! Nothing! The only statement that Max Kael? will be making in PRIME today-
Max Kael: In three days.
U.N. Couth: God damn it, Max, I’m trying to control the narrative! Shut up! Where was I? Oh right, ABE LIPSCHITZ, Max Kael? makes a statement in his debut match by putting you down for the ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR..
She hesitated for a second before looking at Max for guidance, the women clearly unaware of how long a pinfall was.
U.N. Couth: ..F..Five.. six?
He lowered the cigarette holder when he felt Couth stare at him while still counting. He seemed confused for a second before he realized she was flailing.
Max Kael?: Do you not.. It’s three. Three is the number I am keeping him down for.
U.N. Couth: THREE!
She roared triumphantly while she raised both arms into the air. With more energy than you might expect an old woman to have, Ulsa brings this segment to a close.
U.N. Couth: And you know what that makes you.. A SUCKER!
We cut away as Max gave U.N. Couth a congratulatory handshake.
LOST AND… FOUND?
And we cut backstage, live, where all of PRIME’s most popular stars can be found.
And also, Nate Colton.
He walks through the hall, still carrying his gear. With the communal locker room off-limits to him after ReV33, he’s been looking for a place to change…and strangely enough, hasn’t found one. The Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse is full of all kinds of nooks, crannies, and spare rooms…but they all seemed to be in use or blocked off tonight.
At last, Nate sees a few stray Enemigos and waves for their attention.
Nate Colton: Hey, guys. I was trying to change out in the parking lot, but there’s a bunch of weirdos out there with cameras. Any chance you can do something about that?
They walk right past him, not even slowing down. Nate stares after them, shaking his head.
Nate Colton: I guess not.
He his feet carry him through the unending maze. Down the tunnels nobody ever uses, past the locked rooms whose keys were lost years ago, into long-forgotten corners, until…
Nate Colton: Huh.
Here, beyond the bowels of the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse and into its very butthole, he finds a door with a sign on it.
Well, why not? Seems like nobody else wants you.
He raises his hand to knock on the door…
And the door opens RIGHT before he knocks on it.
Nate glances down… a long way down, to Vickie Hall standing there, absolutely flabbergasted at finding Nate Colton’s hand ready to knock.
Vickie Hall: Oh my gosh golly WELCOME!!!
She leaps up onto her tippy toes, snatching Nate’s hand and leading him inside the locker room… where, just like two weeks ago, the walls are littered with Nate Colton posters, pictures and a plethora of support signs.
NATE THE GREAT
WE LOVE NATE
NATE WINS OR WE RIOT
LACES IN OR OUT, WHATEVER YOU WANT
DIE CECILWORTH DIE
FIVE STAR COLTON
CECILWORTH SHOULD DIE OF GONORRHEA AND ROT IN HELL
LOVE IS THE GLUE YOU REALLY NEED
LIKE WHERE IS BUCKINGHAMSHIRE ANYWAY?
NATE COLTON IS THE BEST BOY
Nate looks around, perhaps feeling somewhat uncomfortable but he’s barely given a moment to breathe before Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy springs up with an offering of mozzarella sticks on a silver plate.
Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy: Makes a great snack!
Vickie scoffs and pushes past The Nuzzle Lord as she continues to drag Colton to the far end of the locker room.
Vickie Hall: So so so glad you decided to come back. It’s like practically humbling!!
Nate Colton: No, it’s…look, I don’t want to be a burden or anything. Just looking for a place to get changed before the fight.
Vickie didn’t particularly hear a word Nate said, she’s still beside herself.
Vickie Hall: Okay so we have treats over there (points to TCG standing with a dumbfounded face and a dish full of mozza sticks), showers off to your right behind that wall (head nod to showers) – (sidebar comment) we can also clear the room when you want to use it, no issues or no problems – (back to her regular voice) and the bench to rest on is (points to the bench) RIGHT THERE!
She practically pushes Colton into a spot on the bench next to Jonathan-Christopher Hall.
Pleased with what’s happening, Vickie surveys the entire locker room. She nods. She nods hard, she nods A LOT.
Vickie Hall: Listen, Nate, dearest, I gotta go do a thing. You stay right here and just enjoy yourself before the big match.
PRETTY PINK© walks up to Nate and punches him on the shoulder. And with an extra chippy voice, she says…
Vickie Hall: We’re all cheering for ya!
Vickie races out of the locker room, leaving Nate Colton and Jonathan-Christopher Hall sitting there.
Jonathan-Christopher and Nate look at each other, as if neither one is sure how to start the conversation.
Nate Colton: Hey.
At first, Jonathan-Christopher Hall doesn’t know what to do. He looks over towards Tristan-Crispin, but his cousin is at the far end of the locker room and in his own world, not paying attention.
Jonathan-Christopher Hall: Hi.
Both men shuffle on the bench a couple of times, as Jonathan-Christopher’s eyes meet the floor. Then the ceiling. Then the floor. Ceiling. Floor. Etc.
Jonathan-Christopher Hall: You’ve faced Anna Daniels a couple of times already, right? (Deep gulp) Got any tips?
Nate actually opens up a bit here, as the conversation has turned to a topic he’s comfortable talking about…and also, that he’s not getting completely steamrolled.
Nate Colton: Oh, sure. Anna’s a hell of a fighter, but the main thing is that you can’t be scared. If Daniels picks up on that, she’ll kick your head clean off.
And strangely enough, Jonathan-Christopher looks like he’s listening, paying careful attention and shows a genuine look on his face as Nate gives him this advice.
Jonathan-Christopher Hall: (awkward laugh) It’s funny, only until recently have I not been so scared in the ring. Dare I say, it’s paying off. (another awkward laugh)
Hall scratches the side of his head.
Jonathan-Christopher Hall: She’s tough though, it’s going to be a challenge and I have to stay composed. (Trying to be polite by changing the topic) What’s your strategy for Cecilworth?
Nate Colton: It’s tough, ‘cause that guy’s a killer. But I think I know where my edge is; if I can stick to that, and I can capitalize at the right time…well, who knows.
Hall exhales hard after thinking about what Nate has to go through. Looking like he’s unsure what to do at first… JC extends his left arm and knocks Colton on the shoulder.
Jonathan-Christopher Hall: Hope you win. I mean that.
The typical “Timid Tiger” leans down and reaches into his duffle bag, pulling out a pair of PRETTY PINK© wrestling board shorts. These ones are particularly pink and particularly short. For a brief second, Hall seems a little uneasy at the thought of having to wear these. Nevertheless, he places them beside the empty space on the right side of the bench and then finds his PRETTY PINK© floppy shoes.
Jonathan-Christopher Hall: Guess we should get ready, huh?
Nate Colton: I suppose. Tear it up out there, man.
He offers a fist bump to the Vow of Virtue, which he-
The locker room door SWINGS open, revealing Vickie Hall standing in the middle of the entrance, arms wide and head high.
Vickie Hall: LOOK AT MY SUGAR BABIES BONDING!!! Aaaaawwwwweeeee shucks!
Jonathan-Christopher’s face immediately goes red (Colton something here?)
Vickie strolls over to her Amazing Life Partner and places her arm around him.
Vickie Hall: Now my dearest Jonathan-Christopher, don’t waste too much time, honey. You know you have a big match ahead. Both of you do!
Vickie removes her hand around her ALP and marches to one of the Nate Colton posters on the wall. The tone of her voice changes… it sounds a little lower and more intense. Her bushy eyebrows also narrow.
Vickie Hall: I want you all to be winners tonight, there should be no excuses. After all, we are on the up and up! Aren’t we?
It was likely rhetorical. Jonathan-Christopher is already putting on his wrestling shoes.
Nate Colton: That’s the plan. Right, JC?
He slaps Hall on the back and smiles. Meanwhile, Jonathan-Christopher smiles in return, although he seems to mumble a comment under his breath.
Jonathan-Christopher Hall: Hope so.
A pleased Vickie Hall sees the boys starting to get their wrestling gear ready, as Tristan-Crispin remains off in the corner and has devoured the mozza sticks. Revival goes… to another pre-tape?!
END OF DETENTE
Arrival. Earlier in the evening. Cleveland, like so many other places, has been sweltering over the course of the last week. A calm before the storm. If only people knew what was to come throughout the night. The camera fixes upon the form of the PRIME Universal Champion, Brandon Youngblood, as he power walks through the halls of Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. He isn’t scheduled to wrestle tonight, but his manner conveys an intensity on par with any night in which he competes.
The fans in the arena let out their cheers, but as the Champion rounds the corner, only boos can be heard. While Rumor Mills and Think Red took up mental real estate, the instigator of tonight’s sour mood occupied the physical.
It’s been a long time coming, but in the periphery, the large, looming figure of a man wearing a black shirt and red suspenders can mean only one thing: Ivan Stanislav. For the first time since he arrived almost a year ago, he and Brandon Youngblood were about to share the same physical space outside of a wrestling ring. Stanislav’s words were a wave of Russian-tinged disdain.
Ivan Stanislav: Brandon Youngblood…
The Bear’s footfalls echo down the hallway as his combat boots crunch with his steps, the lumbering, towering Russians face that of, at best, extreme consternation. Stanislav’s presence demands attention, which he also expects.
Ivan Stanislav: Dealing with you in wrestling ring, it can be difficult to gauge how truly small someone is, but you are even smaller than I expected…
Those words come from on high. The Diamond glowers in the direction of the Russian Bear, a hand ripping at the zipper of the duffle bag over his shoulder. The movements are powerful, quick, and as quickly as he starts, the bag is on the ground.
The Universal Championship, however, is clasped in his hand.
Brandon Youngblood: How about you gauge this?
There is no raising the title. Its place is evident for all to see. Stanislav can’t help but narrow his eyes cast down upon it. With a loud thunk, it too is on the ground.
Brandon Youngblood: Or gauge your material. Everyone. Everyone. It’s the same fee-fi-fo-fum bullshit. ‘I big, you small’. Better delivery. Lots more skillful. Same message all the damn same.
Stanislav’s eyes smolder as he gazes down at Youngblood, and then at the belt that falls to the floor. His breath whistles through the black and gray hairs of his nose. As the physical space between the two men shortens, the tension grows.
Ivan Stanislav: One should treat that belt with more respect, Youngblood. It is not some trinket to toss about. Yet do I expect anything more from you? Nyet. Not “great” Brandon Youngblood. Well, Mister “Fuck Around and Find Out,” I may not have as many nicknames as you. But I do not need them. That belt will be pried out of your grasping hands and I will show all of PRIME meaning of true champion.
He smirks and cocks one of his bushy brows.
Ivan Stanislav: Hammer and sickle will look fantastic, emblazoned upon the front. And you will squirm.
Brandon Youngblood: Yeah?
A simple finger point at HIS Championship.
Brandon Youngblood: It’s right there. Sitting right there. Don’t need to pry nothing. Go on. Take it.
Brandon Youngblood: Try it. Give me a reason. One. Damn. Reason. ‘Cause all that down there? Not mattering as much to me. Bunch of clothes and a belt. A pile of shit, laid on the floor. Just like you laid out on me…my family. My brother. My DEAD brother. Belittled. Used like a tool.
There’s not much separating the pair now. These mammoths of muscle. Two of the most wrought iron and feared legacies in the history of professional wrestling. And at any moment, their blows could rattle the very foundation of the Rocket Mortgage Arena.
Brandon Youngblood: One reason. Go on. Grab it. Because I promise you…after all that talking about how I can’t lift you? You try taking MY property? You’re not getting up…
The gears turn in the head of the Soviet man. His eyes glare down, past Youngblood, at that belt. What he’s wanted for the past year. No, what he’s wanted for the past seventeen years since his first stint in PRIME. His jaw shifts slowly in his massive head as his right fist balls up into the size of a ham. Muscle, thick and taut, expands beneath his shirt as his suspenders creak beneath his expanding frame.
But Ivan smiles.
Ivan Stanislav: Last time I took matters into my own hands, Mama Troy swooped in and saved Universal Champion Rezin.
He shakes his head and tsks.
Ivan Stanislav: And he is not coddled lifetime pet like you, Youngblood. I will not fall for it. Besides, why put you through this wall outside of ring, when I can do it in front of all your fans and watch them cry tears at your destruction? I know you believe you have nothing to fear, Brandon Youngblood. I know you have bought, like some blind capitalist, all the smoke and sunshine PRIME has shot into your face since reopening. But I want you to know something, and you listen well, boy.
Stanislav leans forward, his huge head lowering more to be in line with Youngblood. Such a large target, he almost makes it too easy to hit him.
Ivan Stanislav: You have never stood against The Russian Bear alone. Claw away the smoke. Dispel the sunshine, and understand that you are woefully unprepared for me. You have never stood against someone such as I. And you would do well to un-puff that chest and open your mind before I embarrass you before every member of PRIME who holds your memory dear.
He offers a wide, almost frustratingly friendly smile as he straightens up to his full height.
Ivan Stanislav: That belt will be mine. It will be Mother Russia’s. I will not take it today. I save it for later.
In the face of such meticulously cultivated yet immensely threatening stature, all others have, in some form, wilted. And those from the past weren’t ham and eggers. They were champions spanning multiple divisions. Numerous accolades. A litany of main events and vaunted stature. All the more impressive, then, was Stanislav. The Red Tempest. The Uncrowned.
Yet on this night, there isn’t a solitary hesitation.
Brandon Youngblood: Do you even know what’s standing in front of you? The pet project? Sunshine and rainbows? I was run out of here like a damn dog, Ivan. Everything I have…everything I am…I earned. We ain’t stepped face to face, one on one, but I’m going to put it to you as bluntly as anyone ever has.
There is an almost sadistic, wild-eyed stare from the Universal Champion toward his challenger.
Brandon Youngblood: Nobody in PRIME history has won more singles bouts in its history. Every GTT winner I ever faced? I put down. You know those names. Guys like Snow. I’m the constant. Era to era. Seen all the threats come…and all the threats go. The inevitables. The monsters. The ones who had real staying power…
The blows could come at any time.
Brandon Youngblood: From where I stand? From what I’ve done? Size of the man? I don’t even see you.
No one would ever claim that either of these men were gifted in the art of de-escalation. Stanislav’s face twists into a greater, angrier grimace at Youngblood’s words. His upper lip curls as he reveals more of his teeth. He looks about to boil over, but then? Ivan simmers and his eyes turn thoughtful. The grimace turns into an almost amused smile.
Ivan Stanislav: Threats come. Threats go. Yes. And you, and I, and everyone else believes they will be constant. But that, Brandon Youngblood, is not to be. Not for you. Not for me. The victories of your past? Meaningless. The men you have defeated? Irrelevant. There is but one moment to which we march towards: UltraViolence. My eyes are set to the future. A Red Dawn for PRIME. A glorious moment of success for something far greater than individual accolades.
He nods down at Youngblood.
Ivan Stanislav: We have more in common that you can imagine, Brandon Youngblood. Yet, as much as I would enjoy listening to you tell me how great you -were-, I have important things to do. There is new member of Red Army tonight. Oh, and plenty of other important work that must be done throughout evening.
Ivan nods down towards the belt, lying between them.
Ivan Stanislav: Pick up your safety net. Your relevance. Your prop. Enjoy it for next month, because you will -never- hold it again come conclusion of UltraViolence.
Many others might look to get the last word, perhaps futilely doing so. Brandon? The rabid smile and huffing chuckle is all he offers, grabbing the duffle bag and the Universal Championship, throwing it over his shoulder.
Brandon Youngblood: Funny. Supposedly all about the future…
He barely avoids shoulder checking the Russian Bear.
Brandon Youngblood: …sounding like just another tab…
And then, as he steps away from the engagement entirely, his parting salvo.
Brandon Youngblood: Good luck with your Red Army announcement. And keep my goddamn family’s name out your goddamn mouth.
Ivan doesn’t allow Youngblood to see his frustration, but when The Diamond walks away, his expression sours greatly. He spits on the floor and grinds his teeth with hands on his hips, as rapid footsteps arrive behind him.
Ruslan blinks and looks up at his friend, and then towards Youngblood.
Alexei Ruslan: Let us take him now, Comrade.
But Ivan shakes his head.
Ivan Stanislav: Nyet, old friend.
Stanislav once more grins, but there’s malice laced throughout every pore of that aged face.
Ivan Stanislav: We have more important work to do.
The two Russians smirk to one another as the scene fades to the ringside area for our next match.
ABE LIPSCHITZ VS. MAX KAEL?
The match graphic appears as the crowd gives a loud cheer in anticipation for this one.
Nick Stuart: What more is there to say? We have Abe Lipschitz against… Max? Kael?
Richard Parker: I? Guess? So?
Nick Stuart: Either way, let’s go to ringside and Vince Howard.
The scene goes to ringside.
Vince Howard: This match is for ONE FALL! Introducing first… from Arkham, Massachusetts… weighing in at two-hundred-twenty pounds… he is???… MAX… KAEL?????!!!!!!
The lights in the arena lower as the stage is covered in a single pale white light. The simmering opening piano notes of “Am I A Psycho” by Tech N9ne (Feat. B.o.B & Hopskin) signals the arrival of the first double, first generation and Unhall of Famer talent, Max Kael?. As the bass line drops, in pumps to life the pale white light beginning to rotate between red and blue to the beat.
Richard Parker: Arkham, Massachusetts, is fictional, right? I’ve never been.
Nick Stuart: Not answering that.
The opening refrain of the music starts as U.N. Couth sweeps out onto the stage wearing a black business suit and skirt with an expression that explains that she despises the fact she is there.
Richard Parker: What a nice, pleasant looking lady.
Nick Stuart: (sarcasm) Yeah, she looks real friendly.
Slinking out of the shadows behind U.N. Couth and into the flashing light is the lean, hungry vision that is Maximillian Kael?. The boos and jeers of the crowd rain down on the duo as Max begins to sway and bob his head to the music with a shark toothed smile drawn across his face, a stark contrast to the unpleasant frown Couth wears.
Having grown tired of standing on the stage, U.N. Couth reaches back and grabs Max by the shirt, pulling him out of his apparent trance. The two seem to engage in an intense stare down as Kael?’s evil smile jumps into a savage snarl. Couth snaps around and begins to march down to the ring seemingly breaking the tension as Max stalks down behind her though he maintains the steady head pop to the music.
The angry old woman marches up the ring steps and waits on the apron for Max. He quickly jumps up onto the ring, holding the ropes open begrudgingly to allow Couth to enter the ring. She enters and immediately begins to badger the referee, Elivs Nixon, to which he wants none of it. Max seems to hang on the ropes for a moment before rolling through them into the ring in an awkward, strangely flexible manner. He quickly throws both his hands into the air and struts to the center of the squared circle, a manic, wild look in his eyes to match the toothy grin on his face.
As his music dies down Max slithers to his corner while receiving loud, largely useless advice from U.N. Couth.
Vince Howard: And his opponent… from Virginia Beach, Virginia… weighing two-hundred-ten pounds… ABE LIPSCHITZ!
“I Love Your Smile” by Shanice Wilson plays as the crowd cheers and out walks Lipschitz. He makes his way down the ramp, although at first he looks rather overwhelmed by the figure in the middle of the ring and the screaming old lady beside him. Regardless, using the crowd as energy, Abe pumps himself up and slides into the ring as U.N. Couth exits and watches from the apron.
The crowd is WHITE HOT for the sound of the bell in anticipation to watch Abe Lipschitz (hopefully) beat Max Kael?.
Abe races towards Max but Max sidesteps the rush and steers Abe into the ropes. On the bounce back, Max looks for a rake to the eyes but Abe grabs Kael?’s hand right before Max does and connects with a side Russian leg sweep. Lipschitz follows with an elbow drop. He pulls Kael? off the mat and Irish whips him into a corner.
Nick Stuart: There’s got to be some ring-rust by Kael? here.
Richard Parker: You think? He’s been dead for two years!
Nick Stuart: Apparently three.
Kael? meets the corner but then he BURSTS out of it upon immediately meeting the padding (U.N. screaming at him doesn’t hurt, either). Max catches Lipschitz with a full blown clothesline, or, in other words, a king kong lariat. However, Lipschitz is right back on his feet.
Kael? drills Ape with an Arkham uppercut.
Lipschitz is back on his feet. So Kael? hammers his opponent with another uppercut.
Lipschitz is back up again!
This time Max goes for the rake to the eyes! With Lipschitz bent over, Max connects with a hanging neckbreaker!
Nick Stuart: Max seemed mildly frustrated he wasn’t able to keep Abe Lipschitz on the mat so he cheated to gain a better advantage!
Richard Parker: It’s smart wrestling, Nick. Two moves worked but not well enough, so poke him in the eyes and be done with it. I enjoy the change of pace!
However, Kael? isn’t finished with Lipschitz just yet. There’s no pinfall attempt. Instead, Max drags Lipschitz off the mat and walks him over to a corner of the ring.
Kael? throws Lipschitz’s head off the top turnbuckle pad.
There’s an inaudible heh from Max Kael? as this time he winds Lipschitz’s head back as far as it can go, looking to slam Abe’s skull THROUGH the buckle for a final time.
No! Lipschitz puts his hands out to block it!
Abe follows with an elbow into Max Kael?’s gut. This is followed by a second elbow, a third, a fourth. There’s a quick fifth for good measure, too. Then Abe looks at the top turnbuckle padding, the one his own head was absolutely pounded through moments ago.
It’s Lipschitz’s turn.
Or no, it’s not!
A fumbling Max Kael? kneels over in pain, and then ever-so-quietly slides his left arm over to the front of Abe Lipschitz’s legs. As quick as a flash of lighting, the former dead guy? knocks Abe in the dick with a sly low blow, so underhanded and clever referee Elvis Nixon didn’t see a thing.
In fact, Nixon only shows confusion when Lipschitz doubles over and walks to the center of the ring, having no idea what put him in such a vulnerable position.
Meanwhile, U.N. Couth claps!
Now it’s time for Max Kael? to lick his chops. If he has chops. Do dead people have chops?
Kael? charges but suddenly he’s caught in a powerslam by Lipschitz!
Nick Stuart: We have a cover!
The crowd sighs at two, although from the expression on Abe’s face suggests he knew this wouldn’t get him the victory. Instead, he quickly slides into the right position, attempting to work Kael? Into some arm bar submission… but Max grits his teeth and starts slithering towards the ropes. He gets there before Lipschitz applies the move so the Virginia native has to drop the hold.
Both men are on their feet. Max races towards Lipschitz but this time he ducks a spinning heel kick. Kael? hits the far set of ropes and right as Lipschitz is pulling himself off the mat, Kael? lands a killer sounding dropkick to Abe’s face!
Nick Stuart: The lights are out!
Indeed, they are. Lipschitz doesn’t move an inch. Max Kael? chuckles to himself as he slowly bends down and then holds his back, almost like it was hard to move into his position for what is likely the first time in years? Regardless, Kael? snatches Lipschitz’s body off the mat and drags it in the air, parallel to himself…
Blue thunder bomb!
Kael? demands a pin, all while he sports a wicked grin on his face!
U.N. Couth can’t believe it! Yet the surprised look on Max’s mug doesn’t last long. While the crowd cheers and hopes Abe Lipschitz can pull himself together, it clearly looks like Max Kael? Is hitting another level.
A dangerous level.
Kael? whips Lipschitz into a belly-to-back suplex. Max holds on and then performs a running release suplex! If it wasn’t for the bottom rope that Lipschitz crashes into, he likely would’ve been thrown right out of the ring and landed on his head!
Kael? measures Lipschitz and goes running in with a high impact elbow drop to the back of Abe’s head.
Nick Stuart: I think this match may need to be thrown out soon.
Richard Parker: Soon? Soon!? It IS over, Nick but I’m here for more of it!
Kael? purposefully pulls Lipschitz off the mat and into another suplex position… but this time Abe breaks away! There’s life left and, therefore, there’s life left in the crowd! Abe fires right forearms over and over into Max’s head. He turns to race into the ropes-
But Max grabs hold of Lipschitz’s hair! Lipschitz crashes to the mat in a heap since his body wanted to go one way but instead Kael?’s STRONG grip tells Lipschitz he can’t do it. So here we are, Abe is on the mat.
On the outside of the ring… U.N. Couth starts screaming at Kael?. Seemingly, he doesn’t seem to register what she’s saying.
A wicked grin crosses Max’s face. He looms over his opponent and first knees Abe in the side of the head. Lipschitz tries to cover up on the second knee and he does rather well. This means U.N. Couth tells Kael? to change it up and throw Lipschitz into the ropes so he does. Max kicks Abe in the stomach… and might be looking to set Lipschitz up for a devastating maneuver but Lipschitz pulls away at the last second. This springs Kael? into further action, where he merely rolls Abe into a small package and hooks the tights as well!
Nick Stuart: I thought it was over!
A last second kickout by Lipschitz keeps the match going. But it’s clear Max Kael? wants to try ending the match in a hurry. U.N. Couth hops onto the apron. This grabs referee Elvis Nixon’s attention and he SCREAMS for her to get down. The exact SECOND Nixon diverts his attention is the very SAME second Max reaches into his tights and pulls something out.
Nick Stuart: Oh no…
Kael? has a substance in his hands and he throws it towards Abe’s face! The crowd gives an AHHHH in response.
Nick Stuart: Pocket stand!
Richard Parker: At least it wasn’t something else in his pants. Also, sand is way better than shitty mouth mist.
Lipschitz stumbles around in the center of the ring. He’s throwing punches but they aren’t connecting. He’s not even close.
Kael? connects with a low blow for additional leverage and then he works Abe Lipschitz into a tiger driver position.
Tiger driver ‘91.
AKA The Weapon of Max Destruction!
Richard Parker: D.O.A.
Right after Lipschitz meets the mat, Couth hops off the apron and Nixon spins around, realizing there’s a cover so he slides into the proper position!
The fall is academic, as the crowd reigns in their boos.
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: The winner of this match… MAX… KAEL?!!!!!!
U.N. Couth is back on the apron, clapping her hands with approval as Max Kael? rolls off Lipschitz and eventually out of the ring. He walks up the rampway with Couth, both of them not looking back. Max dusts off his hands, likely to actually dust off his hands but also to prove a point, that he made quick work of the fan favorite.
Nick Stuart: A solid first victory for Max Kael?.
Richard Parker: I’d say so.
Revival goes to commercial as Abe recovers on the mat.
COMMERCIAL: STILL TO COME
Returning from commercial, Angelica Brooks is backstage, standing in front of a big blue PRIME banner and holding a microphone. She has a smart looking sport coat over a white shirt underneath, her reddish hair brushed to one side.
Standing next to her is Scott Hunter, dressed fully for a match even though he doesn’t have a match tonight. The tassels on Scott’s arm bands are waving in the wind, or air conditioning if you prefer. They’re waving. He has a serious look on his face as he stands at a three quarter angle to Miss Brooks.
Angelica Brooks: I’m here with one of the newest signings to PRIME, Scott Hunter. Scott, at ReVival 33 you made your in-ring debut against C. Mortgomery Byrnes in what appears to have been his final match. How are you feeling this week after taking a loss several weeks ago?
Scott Hunter: First of all I have no idea what you mean by taking a loss. I did not take a loss. My opponent stole a win because he is a dirty disease ridden filthy cheater! I think everyone here with eyes saw how C. Mortgomery Byrnes did the worst thing that a human being can do when he blatantly cheated in our match. And the people who don’t have eyes probably heard it, and the people without ears probably felt it. And the people without feelings probably stared at it stoically. The point is, they all know! So before you get all…
Scott waves his hands.
Scott Hunter: Interview-y… I suggest you get all of your facts straight, or at least most of them. I will accept no less than a 90% fact rate from interview people so make sure you are documenting your time.
Angelica Brooks stares at him, a bit dumbfounded, but continues.
Angelica Brooks: Uh.. ok. So…
Scott Hunter: Why am I dressed for a match this week even though I don’t technically have a match booked? I’m glad you asked. For your information, MISS BROOKS, I wear my ring gear everywhere I go. ReVival? Ring gear. Home? Ring gear. Church? Formal ring gear. Out clubbing? Hipster ring gear. Italian restaurant? Garlic ring gear. I’m prepared for every ring gear eventuality, which is a word that means something about events, because it is a major event when I appear anywhere, and that is a fact that has been verified by the Smithsonian, which is also a word that describes the children of men named Smith.
Angelica Brooks: That really doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Scott Hunter: You don’t make a lot of sense! Why are you wearing a sport coat?? It’s not cold in here! Why do your ears twitch when you talk like you have live mill worms inside of them?? Why is your hair red?? Are you even Irish? Or a clown? Or from Idaho? Why don’t you go eat some potatoes and shut up? And while you are doing that please bring me one back with bacon bits and chives because those things are delicious. But no mill worms. I don’t know why you have them in your ears. But still, shut up!
Angelica Brooks: I don’t take orders from you! Who are you to tell me to – –
Scott Hunter: Is that shutting up? It does not sound like shutting up to me. It sounds more like angrily arguing with a very famous professional wrestler, which is what you are doing and is what I am. Lips together. I have faith in you to be able to do this.
Angelica Brooks stares at Scott again, this time an angry glare washing over her face.
Scott Hunter: That’s better. You are a quick learner. I am proud of you. I would pat you on the back but I have been told that I am not allowed to touch people without their permission unless we are actively in a wrestling match. That is in the PRIME employee handbook, which is something I take very seriously except for the part about bringing Lindsay Troy a batch of homemade cookies every week. I’m not letting her get her mitts on grammy’s cookie recipe! Nice try Lindsay Troy. In conclusion, Angelica Brooks, continue shutting up. PRIME? BOOK ME! I am ready and in my gear. Did you hear what I said?? GEAR! Someone is going to feel my wrath, which is not a euphemism. It is a PROMISE!
Scott makes a fists up ‘ready’ pose, then walks off.
Angelica Brooks watches him go, then turns to leave as she rubs her temples.
Angelica Brooks: I should have called in sick.
We then cut to the ringside area.
PERHAPS, PERCHANCE, PERMAYBE
“WHEN MY BACK’S TO THE WALLLLL!!!”
Mic in hand, black dress shirt and slacks on, the Event Horizon bursts out from behind the curtain. His march is quick, his eyes are narrowed, and while the arena shows their support, Hayes Hanlon has very little to offer in return.
Nick Stuart: Welcome back to the arena floor after that…insightful…interview with Scott Hunter, and it looks like our former champion has something to get off his chest.
Richard Parker: About time, all he’s been doing is bitching backstage for weeks.
Nick Stuart: He’s had a rough go of it, Richard. He has every reason to be frustrated with himself.
Richard Parker: Then do something about it! Seriously, this kid had everything in his hands, and he dropped the ball twice. But now that’s everyone else’s problem? Give me a break.
Stepping through the ropes, Hayes takes a moment to peer around the ring, a scowl behind that trademark ‘stache. The entrance is short lived, “Daggers” trailing off, and leaving only the cheering and stirring of Cleveland’s finest.
Home Run Hayes, clearly with plenty on his mind, lifts the mic.
Hayes Hanlon: This isn’t how I saw it in my head, Cleveland.
A murmur through the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. Hanlon starts to wander around the ring.
Hayes Hanlon: When I walked into 2023 with the Universal Championship on my shoulder, I can honestly say that I thought that thing was gonna stay there for a good long time. Did I think for a second that I was gonna drop it right off the bat? Two shows into the year? Against Rezin?
Hayes Hanlon: No.
Hayes Hanlon: And I know I shared some pretty words with Brandon Youngblood backstage before our showdown at ReVival 27, but did I honestly, honestly think that I was going to let even the Tower of Babel take it away? After everything I went through to get it back at Culture Shock?
Hayes Hanlon: No. I didn’t.
Hayes Hanlon: And since then, all I’ve given you is less than my best. Tropical Turmoil? Out. Lights out. Thanks, Jiles. JC Hall? A knock to the nuts and I guess I’m down for the count.
Hayes Hanlon: This is not how I wanted to follow up the Hanlon Year.
Hayes Hanlon: But there’s good news! Because PRIME has no shortage of punk-asses to take it out on. So on that note…
Hayes turns to the ramp, eyes staring right through the back.
Hayes Hanlon: Unless Cecilworth Farthington missed another flight, I’d like to see his limp, skinny ass take a few steps down that ramp right. Now. Along with the rest of his fucking circus!
And drag me into place
And lock the fire escape
I’ll break your pretty face
Hayes Hanlon’s request is asked and answered at the very same time as “Choke” by I Don’t Know How But They Found Me blares out of the Rocket Mortgage (™) Fieldhouse’s speaker system and beckons forth the 5 Star Champion to the entrance way, alongside the whole spectrum of Glueminati associates. Lizard folk, angry Scottish men, kind hearted mutes, powerbomb types, men with impeccable fashion sense, all there, all spread out at the top of the ramp. On many of the waists sit beautiful, pristine championship titles that glean in the area spotlight. Farthington stops his journey at the very top of the ramp, smiling and waving to Hanlon as he speaks words into a microphone.
Cecilworth Farthington: Oh, Hayes, hello again! Man, all this anger in you is really impacting that mustache sheen. It’s looking all sweaty and gross. Disgusting. Not like all of these beautiful polished titles that The Glueminati takes pride in.
Before Cecilworth can even gesture to the rest of the group, Joe Fontaine is already marching front and centre to the middle of the ramp to display his shiny wares before the Hanlon. There might be a little gyrating. Actually, a lot of gyrating. An uncomfortable amount. How can a man possibly do that many pelvic thrusts per second while wearing two championship belts? FLAMBERGE for his part is slowly rolling his head around as his tongue occasionally pokes out, which is normal human behaviour.
Cecilworth Farthington: I heard from my secretary that you really wanted me to be here tonight. Why? So you could yell at me about your career failures? I mean, you already did that to a papyraceous version of me, who gave you the exact response you deserve. So, now I’m here in person, I have granted you my precious time to inform you that yes, it was very funny that you lost to JC Hall but that seems like a you problem, not a me problem. With that said, I think we’ll just skedaddle on out because unlike you, me and my good close personal friend FLAMBO actually have titles that need to be defended and we’re kinda planning to keep ours, a skillset you don’t much possess.
FLAMBERGE: Also, that was the incorrect word to describe the Cecilworth’s ass. It is not the limp. It is mobile.
Hayes, who has done his very best to ignore Joe’s gyrations and FLAMBO’s tongue, is quickly back to the mic.
Hayes Hanlon: You guys don’t have a damn clue what you’re doing, do you?
It’s not much, but it’s enough to give the Glue’s Money Man pause. Hayes is finally able to offer something of a smirk behind his less-shiny ‘stache.
Hayes Hanlon: Sure, you’ve all got some gold on your waist. A little somethin’-somethin’ to show off to the cameras. Hey, I know all about it!
The arena rises a touch, showing their support for their former champion.
Hayes Hanlon: But I’ll be honest, fellas. This whole glue thing? It’s just been kinda…disappointing. Hasn’t it?
Farthington has a bemused expression on his face, or he’s trying to hold in a particularly pungent odor. One of those two things. FLAMBERGE looks at his Intense Title, and he looks at all of his colleagues’s belts, and looks visibly confused.
Hayes Hanlon: Seriously, man. And it was looking so good, too! I mean, your ol’ pal Phil took the Big Strap off of Youngblood, all thanks to the Lizard King here. Seriously, FLAMBO, that was a pretty bold move last year!
FLAMBERGE freezes in place, his eyes locked on Hanson’s mustache, perhaps calculating a fight or flight response.
Hayes Hanlon: But wait! Record scratch. Your “proprietor” winds up in a wheelchair and aww, no more Glue. Womp womp.
Crowd: Womp womp!
Home Run Hayes takes a moment to appreciate the crowd’s echo.
Hayes Hanlon: Not all was lost, though! Here he comes! Cecilworth Farthington! Here in PRIME! High Octane Hall of Famer! Dude, I didn’t even know the minor leagues had a Hall of Fame!
Cecilworth mutters “I don’t know what that is” to FLAMBO, shrugging his shoulders. Joe and Sid also exchange looks, the former mouthing the words “what’s an Octane?”
Hayes Hanlon: Joe and Sid join up, TAB jumps onboard, and whatta ya know, the Glueminati is reborn!
Hanlon pauses for dramatic effect, per usual. The Glueminati, very aware of what’s to follow, are less than enthusiastic.
Hayes Hanlon: Just in time for Tyler to get crushed by Mr. Fuck Around and Find Out. Right before he tucked tail and left us all with…
Hayes gestures to the collective standing on the ramp.
Hayes Hanlon: …this.
FLAMBERGE, somewhat confused, looks to Farthington and points at his own chest, mouthing the words “this?”
Hayes Hanlon: And since then? It’s nothing but nonsense for you idiots. Funerals for cars. Cardboard cutouts. FLAMBERGE doing his best impression of a literal cartoon character week after week. And somewhere in between, you boys just can’t seem to keep yourselves out of my god. Damn. Business.
Hammerin’ Hayes paces across the ring, keeping his dark eyes on the Boys in Glue before pointing a finger at their ring leader.
Hayes Hanlon: So here’s why I wanted your oh-so-precious time, Cecil. It’s because I want you to take a real, hard look at this little troupe of yours. Because while you boys might be pretty shiny for the time being, I kinda wanna hear you admit…
He lowers the mic, allowing the arena’s rumble to fill in the dead air before
Hayes Hanlon: …that the Glue has, time and time again, fallen flat on its face.
Hayes Hanlon: So what’s the point, man? What’s the big picture? Because we’re alllll waiting!
The crowd lifts into a unanimous cheer, and Hayes juts his jaw out in the center of the ring, energized from his stretch behind the mic.
Cecilworth Farthington: If I judged my worth on the braying of seals, my entire life would’ve been spent in the Farthington Manor Sadness Pit. It’s nice that you could use these… fine… folks for the morale boost you’re desperately seeking, my mustached amigo. Or perhaps, perchance, permaybe you want me to be frothing mad and challenge you RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW for the 5 Star Championship. Maybe you want me to be the man who defeats Hayes Hanlon and Nate Colton on the same night. I BET THESE FINE FOLKS IN CLEVELAND, WHEREVER THIS IS, WANT TO SEE THE 5 STAR GAUNTLET.
Cecilworth pauses for a second as the pro-Hanlon crowd roars in approval.
Cecilworth Farthington: However, I believe you have already met my secretary…
The massive frame of Hank moves to the side and reveals that Cardboard Cecilworth Farthington was present the whole time, WHAT A SHOCKING TURN OF EVENTS. Hank gently gestures at the “no” speech bubble. Sid also helpfully points at the “no”. Joe initially points more towards the crotchular region before he realizes his error and moves his hand towards “no” as well. FLAMBO whispers something in Cardboardworth’s ear and giggles. Meanwhile, Hayes squeezes his hands into fists, and shifts foot to foot, a vicious grin forming behind the ‘stache.
Hayes Hanlon: Or maybe…
Hayes rolls up the sleeves of his black dress shirt. Left, then right.
Hayes Hanlon: …maybe I’ll beat the brakes off of each and everyone one of you.
He tosses the mic, and beckons the Glueminati with his hands.
“RIGHT HERE!! RIGHT NOW!!”
Farthington turns to his crew with a nod, and the Glueminati start making way down the ramp. Hayes beats his chest, tearing his shirt off, sending buttons flying. However, before the Glue Boiz can reach the apron another figure enters the fray.
This is where usually there would be the first notes of a familiar theme song, all cued-up and ready to go as if the whole thing had been planned well in advance. Only there’s none of that. Sure, there’s still a rather loud crowd reaction, but Jared Sykes didn’t give the production truck the heads-up he was about to crash this party.
He moves at a decent clip, fast enough that he’s able to close the distance and slide into the ring before things escalate any further. He puts himself in between Hanlon and the gathered mass of Glue. There’s no microphone in his hand, but his lips are easy enough to read.
“The hell are you doing?”
Even with this new addition, the odds are clearly stacked in favor of Team Adhesives, and woe betide the man who needs the King of Forklifts to serve as the voice of reason. How fucked does someone need to be before the master of mannequins thinks, “You know, this is probably a bad idea.” Very fucked. All the fucked.
“What’s it look like I’m doing?” is what Hanlon mouths probably.
Over on the Glue side, Joe Fontaine has miraculously put Cardboard Cecilworth Farthington between him and the ring.
Realizing that no one is picking up that microphone off the canvas, the production team moves the camera in close and adjusts the ringside audio to compensate.
Jared Sykes: Take a minute and think this through. There’s what… five of them if you count Hank? There is no scenario where this ends well if you pick a fight right now.
Later, someone will point out how ridiculous this all sounds coming from him, the man who marched solo into a Red Army celebration. But he’s never been one to listen to his own advice, no matter how salient.
Jared Sykes: This ain’t the angle.
Hayes Hanlon: Oh yeah? Then what is the angle, dude?
With a long, slow sigh Jared scoops the microphone off the canvas. Preventing this from getting out of hand was supposed to be the plan, but no plan survives contact with a man and his cardboard doppelganger. What happens next is done against his better judgment.
What he says next he addresses directly to Hayes.
Jared Sykes: You set the ground rules. Control the terms. Try to play to what advantage you have.
And then, somewhat begrudgingly, he turns towards the Glueminati.
Jared Sykes: The night is young, and I see a lot of very busy people out here tonight. Also, Joe and Sid are here. So this isn’t going to happen now.
The crowd is quick to voice their displeasure. Jared, his face emotionless, casts one final look at Hayes before addressing Farthington and company once more.
Jared Sykes: Hayes wants a fight, and I can’t stop him from having one. Best I can do is try and make things a little more even. So here’s what we do… We give him what he wants, but we do it in Chicago. The two of us, he and I, against any two of you. But I’d take a little time before you decide who you send, because a few of you…
His eyes dart between Joe and Sid.
Jared Sykes: Know exactly how this can go.
Behind him, Hayes growls his displeasure. But Jared, the…professional?… ignores the youngster’s fire. A protective instinct from the normally aloof Farthington kicks in as he sees the expressions on Joe and Sid’s faces.
Cecilworth Farthington: Time to show Coral Avalon how a real mentor acts…
Farthington throws his hands up in the air, slowly backing off and back up the ramp. Farthington looks to Joe, Sid and FLAMBO and nods. They all do versions of nodding in return. FLAMBO’s version is very sensible and not worth discussing in great detail. Joe’s version is censored in 15 territories, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and most Skyrim modding communities. There’s a hint of concern on Farthington’s face as he mouths “Chicago”. He scratches the side of his head for a few seconds and returns to the microphone.
Cecilworth Farthington: The Glue Man Group are hungry, they’re eager to learn, eager to improve their craft, so if you want two men in hot, steamy, Chicago tag team action…
Cecilworth looks to The Glue Crew one final time.
Cecilworth Farthington: I can think of no finer example than allowing them the opportunity…
Cecilworth still looks rather uncertain about the words coming out of his headskull.
Cecilworth Farthington: To be at ringside and see what PRIME’s two greatest champions can do to the newly formed Sad Clan in the ring. You want Glue? You’re going to get the stickiest anyone in the history of PRIME has ever experienced.
Joe responds with enthusiastic clapping at the idea, and shouted something towards the men in the ring from behind the safety of “Cardworth” that could best be described as “completely unseiso”. Sid, meanwhile, just looks bewildered and looks questioningly at Farthington. FLAMBO strikes a very Judo-esque fighter-esque pose and licks his lips. Sykes keeps his chin up, aware of the grenade he just jumped on, while Hayes grits his teeth and shakes his head.
Nick Stuart: Ohh my! If I understand correctly, we’re looking at banger of a tag match at UltraViolence! Hayes and Sykes! Up against Farthington and FLAMBERGE!!
Richard Parker: Hayes better write Jared a thank you card. The kid was about to get a beatdown that would’ve made his cage match with Ivan look like a walk in the park.
“Choke” returns to the speakers, drowning out any jawing coming from the Boys in Glue, the Cleveland faithful roaring at the prospect of the tag showdown to come.
Nick Stuart: We need to cut elsewhere backstage, but let this sink in folks! Hayes Hanlon will finally get his hands on the Glueminati, and thanks to Jared Sykes, he won’t have to go it alone!
Richard Parker: And speaking of Sykes, he might as well stick around in that ring. He’s about to feel the LOVE with Darin Zion!
Nick Stuart: Stick around!
After the in-ring events that transpired, we now switch to the backstage area.
Actually, we’re in the men’s room.
The men’s room?!
Sure. Why not?
There’s an array of urinals all lined up, stretching as far as the eye can see in this particular lavatory area of the Rocket Mortgage Field House. There’s a large 24” x 12” picture frame of Clevel Cavaliers Hall of Famer Walt Frazier encased in glass, and smaller picture frames of other athletes from other teams that compete in this same arena. All the way down at the third to last urinal, is Arthur Pleasant. Sighing, getting into the “zone”, if you will, the Worst Nightmare of Wrestling stands with his back to the camera
(HEY! WHY ARE THERE CAMERAS IN THE MEN’S BATHROOM?!)
The back of his t-shirt says “
I DON’T BITE” and his jet black hair is hanging loose to the right of his undercut scalp.
Suddenly, we hear the men’s room door open with footsteps proceeding it. This could be bad. Or weirdly exciting.
The footsteps grow louder and louder as the man who just entered the facility gets closer and closer to where Arthur stands.
This man chooses the urinal right next to where Pleasant stands, impeding Pleasant’s pissing process.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” Pleasant thinks to himself. “All these empty urinal spaces and stalls and this fuckhead has to choose the one right next to me?!”
Man: Gotta drain the lizard, know what I mean? Make some lemonade? Drozzle the nozzle?
The man who speaks in a familiar New York/Long Island accent is dressed in a gray suit and sporting a white, black, and gray half-mask, revealing a disconnected moustache and goatee. The masked man lets out a loud moan of relief as a steady stream hits porcelain.
Man: Ah fuck yeah! Too much jasmine tea. But fuck! Shit’s got all them anti-toxidents in it, so it’s, whaddyacallit, healthy.
Pleasant, clearly annoyed that he hasn’t started pissing yet and this weird, mysterious man sounds like a race horse, shouts back.
Arthur Pleasant: DUDE. Shut. The. Fuck. UP! I’m trying to take a piss here. Jesus Christ.
Pleasant sighs and tries to concentrate, but the man’s steady stream blasting into the porcelain just further serves to piss him off.
Arthur Pleasant: What are you, a fucking camel or s-
Pleasant stops. Suddenly, it dawns on him that the man’s strange appearance is somewhat familiar.
“Don’t ask him.”
“Don’t ask him.”
“Don’t ask him.”
“Don’t ask him.”
“Don’t ask him.”
“Don’t ask him.”
And so he asks.
Arthur Pleasant: FUCK. UGH. Do I know you or something?
Man: You comin’ on to me?
The masked man turns his slightly towards Arthur and lets out a chuckle.
Man: Just fuckin’ with ya. Can’t say you and me ever conversated before.
Arthur Pleasant: Cut the shit! Who are you? You’re wearing a stupid fucking mask and saying words wrong and–
Suddenly, Pleasant realizes it.
Arthur Pleasant: Mortimer. Of course.
Pleasant looks down, still unable to piss.
Arthur Pleasant: So, Mort… this is your plan? Corner me in the bathroom and try to drown me in your own piss or something? Sorry, I’m not into golden showers, unlike the rest of the GASholes you run around with.
Man: Mort? I’m a Mort? Fuck you. I’m Mister P-P-V. Poe Princent Valsenaam.
Pleasant finally begins to trinkle out some pee.
Arthur Pleasant: Ahhh. There we go. Listen, I don’t care if you call yourself Mr. PPV, Mr. PLE, Monsieur Mania, or whatever the hell else you drum up inside that empty head of yours. To me? You are Mortimer Kjedelig. And, while we may be having a “civil” conversation right now? You owe me your fucking blood for what you did to Arliss’ little intern.
Mister PPV: If I was this Mortimer Kuh-juh-keurig, wouldn’t I be arrested for breakin’ some kind restrainin’ order? No offense, queef-for-brains, but this Mort guy owes you shit. You stuck them fangs of yours in Tony G’s business and then pull a chicken-shit move with a restrainin’ order and then think for one fuckin’ second that a firestorm ain’t gonna go down on you, you got another thing comin’ my friend.
Pleasant starts whistling. His demeanor changes almost instantaneously as his piss power grows.
Arthur Pleasant: Sorry, I didn’t get all of that. My mind was wandering. It went back to when you viciously beat me because of some girl you nutted over while watching her wrestle because she reminded you of all those hentai pornos you subscribe to. Listen, you can pretend this didn’t start at Tropical Turmoil, by you, all you want. All you need to know, Mister P?
Pleasant shakes (not more than once) and wipes his hand all over the silver flushing mechanism before pulling down on it. With “Mr. PPV” still standing there, facing the wall, Pleasant wipes his piss-ridden hand across the back of his neck. Slowly, making a pee-sodden tracing circle.
Mister PPV: Back the FUCK up or they’re gonna start callin’ you Gummy Jim!
Pleasant smirks as he backs away.
Arthur Pleasant: All you need to know is that I’m going to FINISH. THIS. The next time we meet each other? Whether it’s in the ring, the bathroom, the parking lot, or a fucking Benny Hanna’s? I will do precisely that.
Pleasant goes back to whistling as he makes his way to the sink, washing the remaining filth off of his hands that didn’t transfer to the back of Mor- Mr. PPV’s neck.
Arthur Pleasant: I’ll see you soon, fuck wagon.
Pleasant walks out of the Men’s Room, leaving Mr. PPV and his urine slimed neck behind. Mister PPV finishes his business, flushes, sopas up, and as he scrubs his hands under the water he looks at himself in the mirror, a disgusted sneer across his face as the scene ends and we cut to ringside.
DARIN ZION VS. JARED SYKES
Jared Sykes is still in the ring. You know why? Because he never left it earlier. He is in the corner, crouching, Plenty by Northline blaring.
Vince Howard: Hailing from Boston, Massachusetts…accompanied by Justine Calvin, and weighing in tonight at 201 pounds…JAREEEEEEEEEEEEEEED SYYYYYYYYKES!!!
The jobberest of jobber entrances.
“Happy Song” by Bring Me The Horizon.
Vince Howard: His opponent…from Chicago, Illinois and weighing in tonight at two-hundred and twenty-five pounds…
Darin Zion steps out onto the stage. A man who seems to think booing is a sign of adoration grins at his, uh… adoring fans.
Vince Howard: DAAAAAAAARIIIIIIIIIN ZIIIIIIIION!!
Zion makes his way to the ring. Fun fact, when he walks the lips on his pants kind of pucker and unpucker like someone trying to pretend to be a fish. This needs to be remembered. He darts into the ring, bouncing on the balls of his feet, looking to get this match underway.
The moment the bell rings, Sykes leaves his crouch, his head cocked. The ever punchable face of Darin Zion offers his default countenance, that slight self satisfied smirk. Fiddling with the waistband of his tights, he slowly moves forward in a wrestling stance, ready to make a statement with his slight size advantage. It’s not to be.
Nick Stuart: Sykes EXPLODING out the gate with a running drop yakuza kick!
Richard Parker: Oh my HOYT…he damn near did a three-sixty on the blow there!
Nick Stuart: Zion trying to stagger to his feet–
Richard Parker: Sykes is smothering him–
Nick Stuart: Heavy HEAVY forearm blows on the back of Zion. Those aren’t pepper shots. They’re like landmines.
Richard Parker: This is–
Nick Stuart: Least anyone forget the role Darin Zion played in the unconscionable assault on Eminence on the road to Colossus last year.
Richard Parker: Proof positive that wrestling doesn’t adhere to the bylaws of the Geneva Convention–
Nick Stuart: And Jared Sykes, the Dragonslayer, he hasn’t forgotten with this OH he’s got him in a choke hold WAIT–
Richard Parker: That’s no choke–
Nick Stuart: Lightning Spiral! Lightning Spiral on Darin Zion and Sykes isn’t slowing down…lifting him up…SLEEPER SUPLEX! COVER!
A burst of frenetic energy. Some might look at the record of Darin Zion and take this match lightly. It might be a natural thought process. Instead, Jared Sykes is on full frothing attack mode, as is Justine Calvin, those boxer’s hands pounding the ring apron, baying for blood. Months removed as it were…this was still personal.
Nick Stuart: Jared looking to press on…
Richard Parker: EYE RAKE!
Nick Stuart: Zion with the cradle!
Timo Bolamba makes the motion for the near fall, but he’s nearly cut down by the sheer speed in which Sykes is back up, driving into the rising form of Zion with a european uppercut. Another. And another. These heavy shots have Zion roaming around the perimeter of the ring, trying to avoid the onslaught. Another european uppercut.
He throws another.
Richard Parker: EYE POKE!
Months ago, the chocolateboarding was all encompassing and inescapable. An attempt to rob a man of his life. Here, now? Darin Zion is content to merely rob a man of his sight. Or perhaps simply an eye. Head official Timo Bolamba tries to put an end to this, heavily admonishing Zion in the process, but Tough Love knows no bounds and has no sense of personal boundaries. It’s his turn to press forward, starching The Dragonslayer with a european uppercut of his own, then another, and another. Sykes tries to get into a striking match, but his attempt at a volley is cut off quickly with a kitchen sink hip attack to the midsection, following quickly with a front chancery and a snap suplex.
Momentum brings Sykes back up shortly after the impact, but it’s not the smartest endeavor.
Nick Stuart: Banhammer! Discus clothesline! Cover!
Zion makes zero attempt to argue, instead grabbing hold of a chinlock, trying to grind his body and sap Sykes of some of his stamina.
Nick Stuart: Darin Zion showing out impressively now…
Richard Parker: The tide has turned, perhaps love is in the air? Perhaps all this talk of Nate Colton joining the Love Convoy has a fire lit inside his belly? Or perhaps he followed the route that Tony Gamble showed us all weeks ago by taking a load of loaves off at the swimming pool.
Nick Stuart: You believe this shift has to do with Darin Zion pooping?
Richard Parker: Why else would a man have THAT look literally frozen on their face? It’s some Dennis The Menace leave sh–well…you know…
Sykes pushes up with his hands then grabs at the back of Zion’s head. Darin tries to shake him off, but with some force, Sykes is able to begin to rise. Struggling, looking to exert some measure of strength, Jared suddenly sits out, that vaunted hard head of his crushing underneath the jaw of Zion, breaking free of the hold.
Richard Parker: Uh oh…this could be bad…
Nick Stuart: Sykes seemingly dusting off the top of his head…
Richard Parker: A regular chimney sweep, that one.
A running knee flattens Zion, but Tough Love rises up. Perhaps not the smartest move; Sykes grabs hold of him, launching him with an arm-trapped saito suplex. He refuses to let go. He hits Zion with another. Still not letting go. Another. Three is good enough, no?
With a flourish, Jared Sykes hits a fourth arm-trapped saito suplex. A fifth comes with a slower rise. A sixth one crushes with the heaviness of a spike.
The fans in Cleveland are roaring. Or is that Justine Calvin? Why not both?
Richard Parker: WHAT IN THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?!?!
Nick Stuart: JARED SYKES IN LOCOMOTION! HE REFUSES TO STOP! REFUSES TO LET GO! AND THAT’S A NINTH SUPLEX IN A ROW!
Richard Parker: But he’s breathing heavy, he’s zonked himself completely out…he’s no suplex machine. He’s no suplex machine!
Sweat pours. Darin Zion is deadweight. With a grunt and grimace and a roar of his own, Sykes brings Zion up for the final time, dropping him RIGHT ontop of his head with a tenth punishing arm-trap saito suplex!
You’d think this display would be drain him completely. You’re wrong. The mind has scars that will never fully heal. Just rough ripples, marking what he went through on that singular winter night. If anyone thought such a burst of savagery was unwarranted, then they aren’t understanding of history.
They don’t understand the feeling in the air.
Nick Stuart: LIGHTNING HELIX! LIGHTNING HELIX!
Zion’s legs limply attempt to catch the bottom rope, but the flails have little in them. Ten straight head drops, the brunt of it all crushing his neck. And then, to have it so targeted. He’s Tough…and despite what some might thing, he’s not stupid. Not when he can’t manage to move an iota with dug in heels.
His hand taps against the stomach of Jared Sykes.
DING DING DING
Nick Stuart: What an impressive showing from Jared Sykes here!
Richard Parker: That…wooooooof…that’s that kind of energy that dominated the tag team division and has made him one of the toughest wrestling in the history of PRIME.
Vince Howard: Your winner…by submission…JAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARED! SYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYKES!
Plenty by Northline plays, and Jared Sykes, despite what he might want to continue to do to the man who warcrimed him, merely points to the crowd in celebration before stepping between the ropes, hopping off the apron and throwing his arm over the shoulder of Justine Calvin.
And with that, we go elsewhere.
COMMERCIAL: THE BATTLE FOR PRIME PT. 1
A close up camera shot of Alexei Ruslan, sitting in a chair in front of a gray backdrop. He smiles warmly.
Alexei Ruslan: Hello there. My name is Alexei Ruslan and I have the honor of having Ivan Stanislav here with me today, soon to be Universal Champion of PRIME.
The camera pans to reveal Stanislav, sitting in a wholly undersized chair. He nods quietly.
Alexei Ruslan: Comrade Stanislav, this is just one of several small vignettes that will be held to more fully show the importance of this “Battle for PRIME” as I have begun to call it. Tell me. Why is this match against Brandon Youngblood so important?
Stanislav smiles and rubs his haggard beard, which scritch-scratches audibly.
Ivan Stanislav: First of all, thank you Alexei for having me. It is a true honor to sit here with you and speak to my many PRIME fans. Why is this match so important? Where do I even start? Perhaps I should first discuss courage. It takes a courageous man to stand up for himself, does it not? And yet, Brandon Youngblood hides behind his vast number of sycophants. Members of roster who seem to ignore his threatening ways, his repulsive behavior, and his conduct, which screams his believe that he is simply better than everyone else.
Stanislav looks at the camera.
Ivan Stanislav: It is repugnant, and below the honor of PRIME Universal Championship. Why, we saw earlier how he so callously tossed Universal Championship on the floor, did we not? He cares not for PRIME. Nor does he care for the championship. Like most capitalists, he thinks only of himself.
Ivan shakes his head with disgust but somehow, manages to continue.
Ivan Stanislav: This is a man who did not succeed in defending PRIME’s honor at PWA-01, did he? Like the coward that he is, Brandon Youngblood looks out only for himself and no one else. Which is why, come UltraViolence, I will not only revel in showing Youngblood where he stands in the “pecking order” of PRIME, but also bring a sense of honor and courage to the Universal Title, which has not been seen since PRIME has returned.
Ruslan smiles and the camera turns to him.
Alexei Ruslan: Thank you for that thrilling speech, Praporshchik. I know I echo the sentiments of all when I say that I feel heartened by your positive attempts to better PRIME. Folks, thank you for your time. This concludes our first of many intimate looks into the importance of this pivotal upcoming match.
Fade to… red.
THE FINAL LESSON
We return from commercial to see the camera panning to the parking lot where Eddie Cross steps out of his Honda Civic and turns to lock the door with his key. As he does, the distinct resonance of a straight-six Ford motor needing an exhaust gasket and a pair of headlights enter the scene.
Eddie has just enough time to dive out of the way before Dave Gibson’s truck smashes into the compact car pushing it into the wall as the truck horn blasts, a result of the impact. Dave swings open his door and his cowboy boots hit the asphalt echoing through the garage.
EC has enough time to shake the shock out of his system before Dave swarms on him, piling on strikes and stomps. The veteran doesn’t give Eddie a chance to breathe, and before long, the young man is laying on the tar, hands over his head as his former mentor stands over him.
Gibson wraps a hand in Eddie’s hair, yanking his head up as blood is flowing from his forehead. He delivers a series of measured punches, yelling at his former protege as he does.
Dave Gibson: YOU! *smack*
Dave Gibson: NEVER! *smack*
Dave Gibson: FUCKING! *smack*
Dave Gibson: LEARN! *smack*
The smacks get … wetter as the flow of blood from Eddie’s head increases. After the fourth impact, the rookie’s head is lolling on its shoulders. Dave pulls him in close.
Dave Gibson: You don’t fucking get it, kid. What separates you from me is that I… am willing to do things that you’re not. I’m willing to cross those lines. Suspensions… fines… I could give two shits. I do what I want. This company wouldn’t exist without me. This business is built on my broken back and neck. What are YOU prepared to do? Huh?!? Don’t you pass out on me now!
Gibson delivers a wicked open-handed slap. Eddie ends up in all fours on the ground, groaning.
Dave finally has enough and drags Eddie by his hair and throws him in the bed of his truck. He looks at the reliable old beast and kicks it a couple times, which makes the horn stop blaring. He closes the door with a metal on metal creak and backs out, pulling away speedily with Eddie still in the back. We then cut to… another pre-tape? Is anyone here tonight?!
THE LONG PRAIRIE
Stars. An endless sea of stars. They all glimmer and gleam in the jet black night like glitter in the heavens, like gold dust in God’s own jewelry store case, like… like… diamonds. A million diamonds, all twinkling in an asynchronous array, beautiful and distant and infinite. The camera slowly pans down to reveal a vast desert landscape beneath that night sky. A tumbleweed blows across the screen from left to right. Cactuses stand tall and resplendent against the moonlight. In the distance, a solitary campfire burns and, from that campfire, an equally solitary baritone voice sings faintly against the breeze.
VOICE: Oh bury me not… on the lone prairie…these words came low and mournfully…
The camera moves closer and closer as the voice works its way through the first verse of ‘The Cowboy’s Lament’. As we close in on the campfire, we see none other than Daytona Diamonds sitting on a log and dressed to the nines, the rhinestones on his suit twinkling just like those stars in the sky. His eyes are fixed on the flames as he gently stokes the fire with a stick, cinder and ash popping in unison. Slowly, almost cautiously, he looks up and his eyes meet the camera, a slow smile curling at the edges of his lips.
DAYTONA DIAMONDS: Well, howdy there, pardners. Didn’t hear you sneakin’ up on me. I’m just sittin’ here by the fire, measurin’ my worth ‘gainst the flames. How are y’all tonight out there in the proverbial Heartland? Wish that I could be there with you, Ohio, but the desert was callin’ my name and far be it from this ol’ cowpoke to deny her of what she wants.
That curling smile soon gives way to a full-toothed grin as Daytona lays the stoker down and splays his hands out on his knees. There’s a ring on every finger, platinum and silver and everything else in between.
DAYTONA DIAMONDS: Last week, I made my acquaintances with a lot of y’all in my grand debut, but I figured there might just be a call for a more fittin’ introduction. After all, a man of mystery ain’t worth a good god dang in this here day and age, now is he? For those of you who might not’ve heard, my name is Daytona Diamonds. I’m the Rhinestone Cowboy, the King of the Rodeo, and the best damn wrasslin’ cowboy you’ve ever laid your weepers on. PRIME saw it for themselves and decided, aw hell, this boy needs to be in our ring… and welp, I reckon I decided to sign on that dotted line, as it were.
As if on cue, Daytona tips his hat to the camera, punctuated by a quick wink.
DAYTONA DIAMONDS: But speakin’ of grand debuts… I think I might just end up feelin’ remiss if’n I didn’t send a special gracias to my two amigos from last week’s match, the beautiful Ria Lockhart and the ever-impressive Bobby Dean. Both of y’all put up one helluva fight, I want you to know that. If it were any other night and any other match, you might’ve even got the best of the Rhinestone Cowboy, but… well, I reckon I was just a little bit quicker on the draw, weren’t I?
Another grin. Another wink. Each word and every action is tinged with the faintest touch of insincerity, scripted and prepared in advance.
DAYTONA DIAMONDS: And I suppose that’s what this whole dang thing is all about, ain’t it? I believe it was ol’ Wyatt Earp who said that there’s always a man faster on the draw than you are, and the more you use that gun of yours, the sooner you’re gonna run into that man. Well, folks, I am that man and there ain’t no two ways ‘round it. Next week, when I ride into Detroit, I want y’all to know that I’m fightin’ for each and every one of yuns, from the front row to the cheap seats. I’m a man of the people, baby, and I can’t wait to hear all you PRIMEorillas cheerin’ my na–
All at once, the stars and the desert backdrop disappear to reveal Daytona sitting in front of a green screen. Daytona throws up his hands with a confused expression on his face as someone rushes in from off-screen to put out the fire with an extinguisher. The lights come up to reveal we’re not in the desert, but in a carefully manicured studio. They even got real sand for the floor.
DAYTONA DIAMONDS: Now, god dangit! Why didja go and cut for?! That was solid gold!
DIRECTOR: Daytona, the fans aren’t called PRIMEorillas. What even is that? They’re called PRIMEates. We’re going to have to do another tak–
DAYTONA DIAMONDS: You think I give two festerin’ fucks what everybody else calls those pissants in the stands?! Nuh-uh! I’ll call ’em what I damn well please! You already got me sparin’ niceties to those two bumblefucks I was in the ring with last week! Stop tryin’ to choose my words for me! I’m tryin’ to make my damn money here!
All at once, Daytona is standing and marching away from the green screen. He points towards the cameraman as he passes.
DAYTONA DIAMONDS: You! Turn off that camera! I’ve got a bone to pick and I don’t want you catchin’ my bad side!
The camera is pointed towards the ground, but not turned off. We can see the cameraman’s shuffling feet and, while unseen, we can hear Daytona and the director arguing.
DIRECTOR: Daytona, listen to me! PRIMEorillas isn’t a thing! That doesn’t even make sense!
DAYTONA DIAMONDS: Fuck you, buddy! I’ll tell you what makes sense! My boot in your ass! How’s about that, huh? You lookin’ to earn yourself an all beef, USDA certified ass kickin’?! I ain’t talkin’ lean neither, fatboy! These fists are fat as hell, just like you!
DIRECTOR: What the hell are you even talking about?! That’s it! We’re shutting this shoot down! I’ve had enough of yo–
DAYTONA DIAMONDS: Nuh uh! I’ll tell you when we’re good and goddamn done! C’mere, boy!
We hear the sounds of a struggle. The camera slowly, almost timidly lifts from where it’s pointed at the ground. Daytona’s back is facing the camera as he holds onto the director by the collar, pushing him up against the wall. Without even the slightest amount of hesitation, Daytona starts wailing on the man with a closed fist, punching him in the gut until the director doubles over and falls crumpled to the floor.
DAYTONA DIAMONDS: Piece of garbage! Tryin’ to tell me what I can and can’t say?! Boy, I’m a god dang star! I deal the cards! You ain’t even fit to shine my damned boots!
One last kick and Daytona turns around with his hands on his hips, face flushed with anger as he tries to catch his breath. Looking up, he notices the camera pointing back at him and goes wide eyed for a split second before his brows furrow, his fists clench, and his lips snarl.
DAYTONA DIAMONDS: Oh, you sonuva… You still filmin’ me?! What’d I say?! What’d I fuckin’ say, you limp dicked peckerwood?! Guess I gotta teach you a lesson too, huh?! C’mon! Get your ass over here!
The camera falls to the ground sideways as the cameraman scrambles and Daytona approaches. All we see are a pair of bright white, bedazzled cowboy boots passing by the lens, followed by the sounds of more struggling, fists colliding with bare skin, shouting and hollering and all hell breaking loose.
DAYTONA DIAMONDS: I’m the god dang Rhinestone Cowboy and this here is my rodeo! Don’t you ever forget that again, you get me?! Never again!
The scene goes quiet. We hear a door open and then slam shut. The cameraman crawls into view, his face turned bloody as he reaches a hand out to grab the camera, covering the lens and fading us to black.
We then cut to the ringside area.
KENNADE STARR VS. LOGAN JAMES
“Always” by Saliva plays and green lights emanate through the arena. Logan James walks out from behind the back and plays to the fans a bit before heading toward the ring.
Vince Howard: Weighing in at 250 lbs from Livermore Maine, LOOOOGAN JAMES!
Nick Stuart: Logan James is up against it today with that monolithic Mr. Bubbles to contend with.
Richard Parker: I hope he wore his brown pants.
The crowd slowly erupts in cheers. LJ slowly walks out and looks around. He makes his way down the entrance ramp with a look of uncertainty. As he enters the ring, the progressive cheers turn his uncertain frown into a delightful smile.
“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 kitty cat paw with her hands. Mr. Bubbles, her “butler”, stalks out behind her.
Richard Parker: Well, I guess we get to see if she starts a win streak on this show.
Nick Stuart: You mean Mr. Bubbles, right?
Richard Parker: Look, I don’t understand the kid, but I am willing to give them a chance.
Vince Howard: On her way to the ring… From “Your favorite stream”… Weighing in at “None of your business”…. KENNADE STAAAAAAAARR!
She rides the momentum of the crowd and takes her place at the side of the ring while Mr. Bubbles steps inside.
Logan James hears the signal of the bell and immediately goes to work, charging toward Mr. Bubbles. The monolithic foe takes a clubbing forearm, and then another, stumbling back before setting his feet and grabbing Logan by the forehead and throwing him end over end across the ring.
At ringside, Kennade Starr mimics the motions and mimes for the giant to follow up by stalking James across the mat. When he gets there, the pint sized Starr raises an elbow and brings it down hard, and Mr. Bubbles drives the blow into James’ shoulders. The camera catches a glimpse of Kennade’s phone screen as it blasts with emoji’s and glitter.
Nick Stuart: Early on it is all Kennade Starr and her “butler”, Mr. Bubbles.
Richard Parker: Is it just me or is she pretending to pilot one of those Gundam things that is all the rage with the kids today?
Nick Stuart: Gundams haven’t been a thing in twenty years, partner.
Richard Parker: Really? I thought they were still making those shows. I mean, people said we weren’t a thing in 2023 too, but look at us now!
In the ring, Logan James is trying to compose himself and having a tough go of it. Mr. Bubbles stomps on his fingers which causes James to scream and Starr to laugh as she dances around as if she is controlling the monstrous Bubbles.
Kennade grasps at the air and the golem-man reaches down to goozle Logan James, but he pulls a savvy move, using an angle to shield referee Ashley Barlow from seeing him take a desperation shot to the big man’s plums.
Nick Stuart: That will stop anyone in their tracks, including Mr. Bubbles!
Richard Parker: How come when a wrestler that is a bad guy does that we boo, but when a good guy does it we cheer? Seems like a double standard.
Nick Stuart: Motivation?
Richard Parker: Isn’t it cheating both ways? Morality is a dual edged blade.
Nick Stuart: You’re lecturing me about morality?
Richard Parker: I’m just sayin’.
Bubbles stumbles backwards and Logan is quick to pounce, laying in a series of punches that stagger the big man. Kennade seems to be more interested in whatever is going on in her feed at the moment and is distracted enough to let the older wrestler seize the momentum.
Bubbles stumbles into the corner and Logan James runs forward, delivering a powerful clothesline strike followed up with several shoulder strikes to the midsection. As Mr. Bubbles shakes the cobwebs loose, Logan looks to press the attack and sets him up for a suplex.
Nick Stuart: Logan James is not a small man, but he might be biting off a bit much trying to power up the much bigger competitor.
Richard Parker: What are you talking about? Kennade is the size of a 5th grader.
Nick Stuart: Oh come on, don’t start with this ruse.
Richard realizes that he has hit on something to dig into Nick about and does, in fact, continue his ruse.
Richard Parker: You cannot see that talented young lady right now in a predicament?
Nick Stuart: She is standing in front of us right now playing Dumb Ways to Die.
Richard Parker: No, that’s what is happening in the ring. A person of Logan James’ size should not be matched up against that innocent child.
Nick Stuart: What is wrong with you?
Logan tries to lift the behemoth, but the big man is not ready to go yet and reverses the move into a suplex of his own. KStarr matches the movements on the outside of the ring and before long, Logan James is on the mat flat with an imposing Mr. Bubbles looming over him.
The “butler” drops to his hands and knees and begins to choke Logan, a slight hint of pleasure possibly forming on the corners of his mouth, though it is impossible to see through the mask he is wearing. He becomes more ferocious as the smaller man chokes and gasps for air, flailing his legs.
Referee Barlow begins a count.
Finally Mr. Bubbles relents as Ashley scolds the large man and instructs him to listen to her commands. Logan gets to his feet slowly and as he does, Mr. Bubbles walks forward, practically through the referee to get to his opponent. James is waiting though, and runs forward, delivering a double ax handle smash.
He teeters Mr. Bubbles and bounces off the ropes to bring another ax handle smash which causes the big man to exaggeratedly windmill his arms. Logan nods his head and goes for another smash, this time the big man tumbles and slams to the mat with a percussive thunder.
Nick Stuart: It appears that the goliath can be taken to the mat and Logan James is on the offensive!
Richard Parker: Mhm.
Nick Stuart: Are you surfing on your phone instead of watching the match?
Richard Parker: I am researching, Nick.
Nick Stuart: Researching for the match right? Maybe a finisher, or some sort of history on the competitors or something?
Richard Parker: No, I am looking at Gundam history and you are wrong! They are still making Gundam movies and shows. Did you know…
Nick Stuart: Oh boy…
Richard Parker: That apparently building scale model replicas of Gundams is extremely popular?
Nick Stuart: No. I have a life, speaking of which, shouldn’t we be focused on the match?
Richard Parker: I’m just saying that earlier when I said that Kennade was piloting Mr Bubbles like a Gundam and you told me they weren’t a thing, it turns out you were wrong and they are a thing. That’s all I am saying.
Nick shakes his head.
Nick Stuart: Are you done?
Alongside the ring, Kennade is trying to will her butler to action, but LJ is pressing the attack with a series of mounted strikes. The smaller man lifts his hulking opponent and whips him into the ropes then meets him with a big boot!
Mr. Bubbles drops to the mat and LJ goes for the pin. Ashley Barlow slides in for the cover with impeccable timing.
Sensing that danger is imminent, KStarr puts looks away from preening into the phone and fishes a VR headset from her pack. She spins in a circle and holds her fingers in an anime pose with her left hand on her hips and her feet spread. As if lights and glitter bombs explode all around her, she puts on the VR headset and turns to the ring, where Mr. Bubbles is slowly getting to his feet.
LJ tries to go for the momentum attack again, hunkering down and setting himself up for a big shoulder tackle, but is interrupted as a fan throws a KStarr plushy into his open hands. He catches it and looks out into the crowd to see where it came from. As James jawjacks and points at the plushy in protest to Ashely Barlow, both KStarr and Bubbles reach out, goozling Logan and lifting him high in the air. Then Mr Bubbles sends LJ crashing to the mat with a thunderous choke slam. James flexes his back and holds it in pain while Kennade stomps on the ground at the same time as Bubbles does in the ring.
Nick Stuart: And just like that, Kennade Starr and her butler are back in charge of the match.
Richard Parker: Whatever she is doing with that headset seems to be paying off. It reminds me of The Matrix. Do you think she is old enough to know about that?
Nick Stuart: She is old enough to know how to control that goliath and win matches. That is what I see based on her first match and possibly this one as well, the way it is going.
LJ groans and slowly gets to his feet. He is grabbed by the titanic butler and whipped into the ropes with authority. Kennade winds up her arm as Mr. Bubbles does and mimics his every movement as he knocks LJ almost clean out of his boots and end over end with a STARRSHINE lariat.
Nick Stuart: That was a sickening way Logan James landed on the mat. Human limbs aren’t meant to contort like that!
Richard Parker: That has to be the end of it, right? There is such a thing as overkill, and as someone who plays video games, you would think she knows that.
Mr. Bubbles does not appear to acknowledge the move, he simply looks down at the fallen James. Kennade laughs gleefully and poses for the stream before playing to the crowd and showing she is ready to make a pin.
KStarr goes for the pin identically as Mr. Bubbles, kneeling down and placing his hands on Logan James’ chest and waiting for Ashley Barlow to slide in for the count, which she does with precision.
DING DING DING
Nick Stuart: Another win for Kennade Starr, and she is making a name for herself early. Though I think we shouldnt discount Logan James, who looked awfully strong during this match!
Richard Parker: Maybe so, but the 1, 2, 3 goes to the kid and her Iron Giant.
Nick Stuart: Right! Up next we have a commercial and the show rolls on!
COMMERCIAL: THE BATTLE FOR PRIME PT. 2
A voice over buzzing, vibrating gray. A cadence familiar. Eastern Bloc.
Voice: Hatred. Some use it for fuel to succeed. Others, they need something far worse. An unsporting advantage.
Through the whirlwind of static and chop, home recording footage. Amateur wrestling mats. A timestamp in the corner, changing with each shot. An aggressive, wide eyed kid charging forward, manhandling those before them. Roaring. Flexing. Cody Covington makes his debut on national television.
Voice: An unnatural advantage.
Look upon the hypodermic needle, its tip oozing a glistening oil.
Voice: Like father…
The visage of Brandon Youngblood comes to focus, yelling, roaring. Hurting others. Suplexes. A machine of pain.
Voice: Like son…
The needle sinks into the muscle of a thigh, the hammer descending.
Voice: Some don’t need such measures.
The form of Ivan Stanislav, jogging in the unforgiving Russian cold, can be seen. Vapor pours from him. It’s as though he is unbothered, barely even breathing heavily.
Voice: Some fight not with hatred in their heart, but love.
Charitable dinners. State sponsored events. Ivan is practically dapper in his presentation. A picture of true, rugged manliness.
Voice: Some…would never poison their children with lies.
A quick cut from the face of Brandon, to Cody in his wrestling, interspliced with the sinking of the needle and the pushing of the plunger.
Voice: Ivan Stanislav isn’t the some.
His arms fold across his chest. He’s powerful. Majestic. Pristine. Inevitable.
Voice: Ivan Stanislav…is the one.
SICK OF IT ALL
We return from commercial to the backstage area.
Jared Sykes hasn’t showered or changed since his match with Darin Zion. The closest thing to making himself presentable was the removal of the athletic sleeve from his left arm and pulling on a well-worn tee shirt with a long faded green and grey logo.
Given tonight’s outcome, it would be reasonable to expect him to be in a better mood, but there is no winning against the Love Convoy. Not after what he endured almost a year ago at their hands. There was no justice at Colossus, there was none tonight. Every victory still rings just as hollow as a chocolate rabbit.
But there are other matters to attend to, which is why he moves through the corridors with purpose. He moves towards a small gathering and pulls the towel in his hand over his head, as if it will somehow prevent the group from recognizing him. In truth, knowing these idiots, it might.
The Troy Boys – all six of them – are quick to catch on, and begin to slide into formation behind him. It’s just as they start snapping their fingers in perfectly synchronized rhythm that Jared puts a hand up and turns around. This is not the night for backstage Broadway dance numbers.
Jared Sykes: Not tonight guys, alright?
It’s more a command than a question, but one that’s quickly heeded. Nevin and Devin – that would be “What if we blended pro wrestling with MMA?” Troy and “I’m keeping all the ninjas in the divorce, Tyler!” Troy respectively – look a little forlorn.
Jared resumes his walk, but then pauses and turns back around.
Jared Sykes: Hey…
And suddenly, there is renewed life in the world of the intellectually challenged. A collection of bright, eager eyes stare back at him waiting for instruction.
Jared Sykes: Have any of you seen Nate or Hay-
Six different people point in six entirely different directions. It’s all Zephram can do to not grab a limb and try putting one of his own people in the Koji Clutch.
Lance points at a nearby trash can, which is just rude.
Jared Sykes: You know what, I think I’m good.
Speaking of trash cans, further down the hall, Sykes spots the frame of his soon-to-be tag partner, Hayes Hanlon, doing his best to salvage his black dress shirt that he recently tore off his body during his face-off with the Glueminati. Realizing the shirt is, in fact, effed, he chucks it into the trash with a grumble. Taking a breath through the nose, he turns his head and spots the Dragonslayer, and can only offer a snort and a disgruntled glare.
Jared Sykes: Hey, was looking for you.
He advances down the hall despite the obvious warnings that it might not be the best idea. He also doesn’t bother sugar-coating the message.
Jared Sykes: What the hell was all that out there? Five people and their cardboard mascot… Be honest with me, how did you think that was going to end?
Hayes Hanlon: (Throwing up his hands) I dunno, dude, probably with Sid powerbombing me into the Earth’s core or something, but that wasn’t the friggin’ point, man.
Jared Sykes: Okay then, humor me. And keep in mind I’m probably this company’s leading expert in “poor execution on bad ideas.” What do you gain from starting something with all of them at once? Sure, Sid might toss you around, but Farthington has a rep for putting people on the shelf. You want to get things back on track. I get it. That doesn’t happen from the sidelines when you’re trying to heal a busted arm. So yeah… what is the point?
Hayes Hanlon: I don’t feel like fucking explaining myself, dude! I just…
The Event Horizon takes a sharp breath, pushing both hands in his hair, taking a moment, lest he explode.
Hayes Hanlon: I’m just…sick of it all.
They share a pause, Jared giving the young man a chance to put the words together.
Hayes Hanlon: I’m tired of all these assholes messing with my shit. Our shit, dude. Ivan cost me the title the first time I had to defend it. The Love Convoy pissed all over our match last year. And these pricks? Farthington and the rest? Pissed all over my match with Youngblood, nevermind messing with my shit and costing me a match against JC fucking Hall.
Hanlon makes a move to punch the wall for emphasis, but it’s a half-assed attempt, and he pulls back.
Hayes Hanlon: This shit keeps happening, and no one wants to do anything about it. I’m tired of taking the high road, man. All these pricks need a punch in the goddamn nose.
While still visibly frustrated, Hayes calms a bit, and spits to the side.
Hayes Hanlon: Maybe I thought getting a few swings on them would get me on the right track again. Or maybe I needed another ass kicking. I dunno, you tell me.
Jared Sykes: I understand the frustration. I’ve been there. Been there pretty goddamn recently, in fact. But if there’s anything I’ve had to figure out over my own career, it’s that this shit is endless. Someone’s invariably going to do something shitty, and then it becomes a matter of what the right next step is, because there’s no getting even. It all moves too fucking fast for that. They cost you a match. So what happens next? You do the same to one of them. Great. You’re one-and-one. But everyone involved is still here. The cycle just keeps moving, and no one is any the better for it.
He pauses for a moment, careful to choose his next words.
Jared Sykes: There’s no fixing it, so we find other ways to cope. Some of them can be pretty self-destructive, like marching into the ring and daring a bunch of people to take you out. Don’t get me wrong, I know I probably seem like a big ol’ hypocrite for doing the same thing. I’m not blind to it. But weird as it sounds I also know that it’s not the way.
A few feet away, the Troy Boys – notorious for eavesdropping these last few weeks – decide that it’s probably for the best that they steer clear of this one, and scamper off in a different direction.
Jared Sykes: And you know this. You know it. Because a year ago after the Convoy had tried to take me out twice you and I stood in a hallway like this, and you told me that this was exactly the same as the PRIME you remembered watching. Find the tape if you don’t believe me. None of what goes on here should be a surprise to you anymore, Hayes. Not a single goddamn bit of it. And I can’t fix it. I wish that I could. The only thing I can try to do is make sure that when I’m done that I’ve left it a little bit better than I found it. That’s all.
Hayes offers a reluctant nod, though its sincerity is questionable.
Hayes Hanlon: Yeah. Well. I guess you got to come in and save the day, right?
Those particular words carry a sharp edge, and Hayes is quick to recognize his faux-pas, thanks to the sudden shock in Jared’s face. Behind his dark eyes, there’s an urge to retract and apologize. Unfortunately, he does not.
Hayes Hanlon: But hey, thanks for that. Didn’t have any plans for UltraViolence anyways.
Jared Sykes: Are you… Did you actually just…
The frustration is palpable. It’s all Jared can do to keep himself from lashing out and escalating the situation. He pulls the towel from his shoulder and draws it the length of his face, biting his lip behind it so as not to scream. He needs to compose himself. Recenter. Getting angry right now does nothing. But by the time he opens his eyes again Hayes is already gone, moving down the corridor at a clip that suggests it’s best that no one follows.
Well, awk, we got to go to another area backstage…
Foster Nackedy is standing in front of a camera, but this isn’t a normal backstage segment where he’s being caught in some action. No, instead he is staring right into the camera. His posture is impeccable, his disco helmet strapped tight. It’s promo cutting time!
Foster Nackedy: I tried to get a meeting with Lindsay Troy tonight, but she was a little too busy for me. Makes sense. She was too busy last show to tell me I wasn’t allowed in the building. Had to send her security oaf to do it.
Foster looks over his shoulder, because as mad as he is, he isn’t dumb and he knows that Dam could be lurking. When he is satisfied that he won’t be thrown against a wall for his comments, he continues.
Foster Nackedy: Listen, I know that we do this song and dance, right? The obnoxious manager to the Murder Man that everyone hates is going to naturally say things to make people mad, pretending to have cognitive dissonance and ignoring that I am in fact a shitbird who might deserve the things that happen to me and my client. And Troy will snort a lot and make pithy comments and everyone will eat it up like…I was going to list a regional food but we’re in Cleveland, so they’re going to eat it up like literal shit.
A few fans boo, and Foster has the presence of mind to not smile at his attempt for cheap heat.
Foster Nackedy: But what I’m saying right now is not one of those dance numbers. Kicking me out of last show was big, and it wasn’t okay. It allowed that piece of shit Anglo to jump my guy and shock him with thousands of volts. And for everything I said before, the real cognitive dissonance is Lindsay Troy pretending that what happened to Paxton Ray is fine just because he may have done a few bad things in the past.
Someone is surely yelling at the tv about Paxton paralyzing a man, but Foster cannot hear that person and so he rambles on.
Foster Nackedy: I get it. Lindsay Troy loved Jonathan Rhine. And she probably likes Tom too, although for the life of me I can’t see why. And she hates me and Pax, and we’ve definitely earned that hate. So all of that means she will basically laugh at the notion that keeping me out of ReV 33 was unfair and dangerous to one of her employees. And all of that is fine. Do you know why?
He smiles, leaning closer to the camera.
Foster Nackedy: Because I do not have cognitive dissonance. I am a bad man. The man I represent is worse. So if you want to ignore us, if you want to put us in bad positions that endanger us, fine. Just remember that you did it. Remember it for whatever comes next.
Foster turns and walks off camera as the announcers interject.
Nick Stuart: That sounded ominous, Richard.
Richard Parker: Sure, but what is he going to do? He can’t hurt anyone because of his weird concussion helmet, and Paxton Ray isn’t even at the show tonight! Just sounds like blustering from a sore loser.
We then cut… elsewhere.
CLICK. BANG. THUD.
The PRIMEcade is open. Has been open for several hours at this point. As various devices are spread equally through the biggest tent the Time Lord could find, it was earlier filled with PRIMEates young and old willing to try out the newest game–and the Multitudes would argue, the best–Anna Daniels’ Owl Hunt. Sales were made because of course they were. The nifty hit of nostalgia and novelty always attracts people. But right now with the marks in their seats watching, there is only one
left playing. Dispute the match with Johnathan-Chrisopher Hall starting very soon, they are not wearing their ring gear. They wear black and white zig zags, an optical illusion. The grip on the AA Zapper is steady as the bit crushed hoots and the flapping of wings come through on speakers.
She smirks. You take what enjoyment you can get in this fucked up world and whether it’s a real owl or a pixelized equivalent, it’s always nice to see them dead. Especially when they start coming after you. Talons out with that look on their face. Most of you have been around enough to know which one. Get them before they get you.
Everything is static except for her.
???: Mr…Dan..els, …ur…ma…
There is a slow blink. A tongue lashes out to lick her lips. The random meaningless staff member is standing at the entrance flap of the PRIMEcade, trying to get her attention while keeping well away of headfucking distance. It’s not that the vessel doesn’t hear them. It’s just that whoever’s in command doesn’t care.
Click. A different one this time. To pause the game.
Anna Daniels: This match is absolutely meaningless. It means nothing and will help no one. Not even Hall. We will not humor him with our best because quite frankly, he doesn’t deserve it. He made that perfectly clear when he decided to use ancient rent-an-insults against us.
This is said to no one in particular as the AA Zapper is gently sat down.
Anna Daniels: However, there is one thing he said amongst the boring, lame ass chucklefuck nonsense that everybody else says that is incredibly amusing. He thinks he wants to see what is inside of us.
A smirk crawls onto the vessel’s face. The lights flicker a bit. The suit is gone. The ring gear’s on. She strolls casually towards the opening while the random useless faceless staff member backs away slowly.
Anna Daniels: The problem is he isn’t worthy of seeing it. Neither is PRIME. Not yet.
The staff member runs off as Anna breaks through the light of day. Or night? It’s Cleveland. Not much difference.
Anna Daniels: We’re not running on PRIME’s or Hall’s timeline. We run on ours. In the meantime, feel free to skip this entire match and come on down to the PRIMEcade. Owl Hunt’s on sale right now.
We then cut to the ringside area for our next match.
ANNA DANIELS VS. JONATHAN-CHRISTOPHER HALL
Vince Howard: The following contest is scheduled for one fall. Introducing first…
The first notes of Aerosmith’s power ballad about the time Bruce Willis, Peter Stormare, and all of Peter Stormare’s quaaludes saved the earth from an asteroid begins to play over the arena speakers, and the response from the crowd is pretty much what you’d expect.
As “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” builds, the duo of Jonathan-Christopher and Vickie Hall make their way through the entrance.
Vince Howard: Introducing first… From Folsom, Louisiana and weighing in tonight and two-hundred and twenty pounds…
Jonathan-Christopher rolls into the ring and then shares a long tender look with Vickie, before blowing her a kiss.
Vince Howard: JONATHAN! CHRISTOPHHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEER! HALL!
Nick Stuart: Hall on a bit of a hot streak lately with a recent win over two-time Universal Champion Hayes Hanlon.
Vince Howard: And his opponent, from Mount Perdition, Gallifrey… She weighs in tonight at one-hundred and thirty-five pounds…
“A Darkness In My Soul” by Solid Space begins to play, heralding the arrival of PRIME’s resident merchandise demigod. She takes her time heading to the ring, moving to her own rhythm as she takes in the space around her.
Vince Howard: ANNAAAAAAAAAAAAAA DAN!!!!!!!-iels!!!!
She makes her way to the stairs and slinks along the apron, whipping her feet before entering the ring. In a rapid blur she begins to chase the referee, and Jimmy Turnbull reacts like a toddler who’s just been jump-scared on Halloween. Limbs everywhere.
Casually, she strolls to a corner with her head bopping before perching herself onto the top rope.
The Timid Tiger stands in his corner looking down lovingly to where his Amazing Life Partner stands. If the technology existed you would no doubt be able to see a beam of tiny hearts floating from his eyes down to his love where they would swirl and circle around her. Everyone would say, “Wow, this is like if a Disney movie started gettin’ pervy,” but that would be a lie, because love is for everyone and not just perverts. Especially not perverts.
Emboldened by the gaze of amour, the Forever Man puffs out his chest, rolls his shoulders, and confidently turns to face his opponent.
His head is immediately punted into the eighth row by a charging Anna Daniels who connects with a running Yakuza kick right off the hop. Well, it’s not literally kicked off his body and into the crowd, because that would be murder, and even in a wrestling ring I’m pretty sure it’s the sort of thing that people get arrested for. It’s just kicked very hard, because that’s what she does.
At least he didn’t have to pay for it.
Nick Stuart: Good lord! Anna Daniels timed that perfectly, waiting until Jonathan-Christopher turned around then damn near took off his head like a comet!
Richard Parker: I don’t think that’s how comets work, Nick, but I’ll call my friend Neil deDrasse Tyson just to be sure.
Nick Stuart: You do not know famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. I refuse to believe it.
Richard Parker: No, but I know a guy named Neil Tyson who we call “Da’ Grass” because he’s a landscaper. He reads a lot, is the thing.
Before the *ahem* Alpha Male Love Boat can react, Daniels is on him. She drives him back into the corner with a flurry of strikes including one particularly nasty elbow to the forehead.
Richard Parker: But if Daniels is just gonna offer up extinction-level events like that kick, then I would respectfully like to submit a list of names for her to consider.
Nick Stuart: How many people on this list are Cancer Jiles?
Richard Parker: The first five, plus entries seven, thirteen, and then all of the twenties.
Nick Stuart: Riveting. Can I go back to trying to call this match now?
Richard Parker: You do you, playboy.
Nick Stuart: …what?
Referee Jimmy Turnbull is quick to begin the five-count, because he might have had to deal with some absolutely batshit tag teams over the last year or so, but that doesn’t mean the man can’t count. Passing second-grade math is a prerequisite for getting into ref school.
Anna backs away at the count of four, but her attention is drawn to the human pink eruption that is Vickie Hall standing on the ring apron and shouting.
Richard Parker: Before you say anything, because I know you’re going to say something… Vickie Hall has a manager’s license. The rules say she can be out here.
Nick Stuart: Still doesn’t mean she should be on the ring apron.
Richard Parker: What about aprons? Don’t get sexist, Nick.
Nick Stuart: What the…
The Vow of Virtue uses this opportunity to establish himself in the match. He reaches out and grabs Daniels by the head, then rams her directly into the turnbuckle. Then he does it a second time, and a third. By the fourth ol’ Jimmy Turnbull is forced to count again, so it’s a good thing “can count good” is the first line item on his CV.
Jimmy Turnbuckles never makes it to five, as Hall executes a snapmare takeover to bring Daniels out of the corner, all while blowing a kiss to his Amazing Life Partner on the outside. Hall wastes little time. He immediately scoots back into the corner, hops onto the second rope, and lands a quick dropkick to the back of the Time Lord’s head before she can stand.
What’s that, you ask? Is Vickie Hall clapping on the outside? Gosh golly, she sure is.
Nick Stuart: A flurry of offense here from Jonathan-Christopher Hall, who looks to be a bit more confident tonight, Richard.
Richard Parker: He’s got wins this year over two former Universal Champions in Hayes Hanlon and… and…
Nick Stuart: You already said his name once, Richard. You can say it again.
Richard Parker: Can. Won’t.
Daniels doesn’t look hurt so much as she looks annoyed. When Hall moves in to make a cover he’s staggered by a sharp upkick. The Muse hits a quick kip-up to get back to her feet, and then before the Timid Tiger can react Anna Daniels is on his shoulders and spiking him with a flash hurricanrana. The smile on Vickie Hall’s face quickly evaporates.
Instead of trying to make the cover, Daniels hits the ropes and rebounds with a punt to the side of Jonathan-Christopher’s head. He collapses face down, but the Merch Tsar runs through the move and uses her momentum to hit the opposite ropes, using the extra speed to crush the now-rising Hall back to the mat with a curb stomp.
Richard Parker: I think someone needs to get Foster Nackedy out here to give us an estimate on one of those shiny disco brain helmets. Poor Jonathan-Christopher has suffered a linebacker’s career worth of head trauma in like 2 minutes.
Nick Stuart: Fans, I’d like to take a minute to remind you that injuries – especially injuries to the head – is something we take very seriously here in PRIME…
Richard Parker: (clearly ignoring this) Think they come in Pretty Pink?
Nick Stuart: …and the safety of our athletes is always our top priority.
Richard Parker: Wait, what? Explain the shock collars, the forklifts, the swords, the people falling off of cells, the people using toolboxes inside cages, that one time that a man was thrown off a balcony, the chocolate murder… really any of it.
Nick Stuart: Uhhh… I mean…
Richard Parker: My logic is flawless.
Daniels rolls Hall onto his back, and we get our first cover of the night. Jimmy “Ms. McKenzie Gave Me a Gold Star on My Plus and Minus Test” Turnbull gets down for some mat-slappin’, which is different than Matt-slappin’, which is the thing I won’t blame anyone for wanting to do after reading this debacle.
There is a squeal of delight from the ringside area when Jonathan-Christopher Hall gets his shoulder up before the count of three. It’s loud enough that a nearby fan is startled, and he promptly spills his REGIONAL BEVERAGE on his own shirt. No one will offer to reimburse him for REGIONAL BEVERAGE, and thus he will be sad, damp, and sticky for the rest of the night.
Daniels pulls Hall back to his feet and drives a knee into his midsection then follows up with a snap uppercut. The Timid Tiger gets all wobbly, because all those bonks to the noggin will do that to you.
Nick Stuart: And there’s Vickie Hall trying to get on the ring apron. Again.
Richard Parker: Do you not understand how true love works, Nick? Her man is in trouble, and she’s naturally concerned for his well-being.
Nick Stuart: Referee Jimmy Turnbull trying to get her back to the ringside area.
Richard Parker: I don’t blame him. The man missed a blatant low-blow earlier tonight, so there’s probably a lecture in his future. And maybe an eye exam.
While the referee is distracted, the Vow of Virtue reaches up and rakes the eyes of Anna Daniels. With the Muse temporarily blinded, Hall is able to scoop her up onto his shoulders before dropping her across the knee with an awkward-looking gutbuster that appears to connect more with the side of her ribs than landing flush.
Hall looks to his Amazing Life Partner for inspiration, and then quickly darts towards the ropes to try and capitalize on the moment. Despite not landing many moves cleanly so far, he climbs to the top buckle with grace, but has to take a moment to adjust his footing because of a slick surface.
Nick Stuart: Hall going high risk. He could be trying to land that “He’s All That” moonsault.
Richard Parker: A thing of beauty for those who haven’t seen it yet.
Nick Stuart: But Anna Daniels is back on her feet!
And moving quickly at that. It’s only because of Vickie’s shouting that the Forever Man knows something is amiss, and he glances over his shoulder just as Daniels hits the back of both of his legs with a shove.
There is a collective groan from every man in the audience as Jonathan-Christopher Hall slips from his perch and lands on his Jonathan-Christopher Balls on the top turnbuckle. Daniels uses this opportunity to grab him by the head and execute a rope-aided hangman’s neckbreaker.
Nick Stuart: Daniels with another cover. This could be all!
Richard Parker: If that were me I’d let her have this one so I could run to the back and straddle an ice block for the next hour. Naked.
Nick Stuart: That’s… no… god, why would you say that?
Turnbull’s hand comes down a third time, but stops inches from the canvas when he realizes that Jonathan-Christopher has a foot on the ropes. Well, it’s not so much that he saw the foot, but rather a tiny woman in vibrant, screaming pink very aggressively alerted him to this fact.
Once again she climbs up onto the side of the ring, this time to have words with young Mr. Turnbull.
Nick Stuart: If she’s not careful, Vickie Hall is going to get herself thrown out of this match, or her husband disqualified.
Anna Daniels moves to engage, to finally be rid of this distraction once and for all. When he sees what’s going on, Jonathan-Christopher calls over to the ref while holding his neck, then drops to one knee.
Nick Stuart: Oh no, it looks like we could have an injury on our hands here tonight. Jonathan-Christopher did take a nasty fall from that neckbreaker.
Which the production team decides to show in slow-motion in a picture-in-picture display. Those heartless bastards.
Despite the harpy shouting at him from the ring apron, Turnbull has to put the safety of the wrestlers first, and so he moves to check on Jonathan-Christopher and turns his back on Vickie Hall. This is, as the kids say, “a dumb.” No sooner is his attention drawn elsewhere does Hall reach into her purse and pull out an object which she then uses to spray Anna Daniels in the eyes.
Nick Stuart: It’s that PRETTY PINK perfume! We’ve seen her use this before!
Richard Parker: And now Anna Daniels can see the true power of love!
Nick Stuart: I don’t think she can see anything at all, that got her right in the eyes!
You know who can see? The Alpha Male Love Boat. His neck may still ache, but his recovery is a certified miracle. He quickly sprints across the ring, driving Daniels into the ropes after his love has safely moved back to the floor, and uses the momentum to roll the Muse up.
Jimmy Turnbull is very clearly confused by all of this, but he still has a job to do, even if he’s not going to be great at it tonight.
Anna Daniels tries to flail, but the burning in her eyes is too strong.
DING DING DING
Once the bell rings and the match is over, Jonathan-Christopher bails out of the ring.
Nick Stuart: I can’t believe it, they stole another one! Jonathan-Christopher Hall racks up another win here on ReVival, thanks in no small part to his wife Vickie.
The pair begin to make their way up the ramp to the backstage area, while a seething Anna Daniels blinks away the last of the perfume from her eyes. The camera lingers on that image for a moment, before we go to commercial.
COMMERCIAL: THE BATTLE FOR PRIME PT. 3
Another close up camera shot of Alexei Ruslan in his chair in front of a neutral gray backdrop. He once again smiles. It doesn’t reach his eyes.
Alexei Ruslan: Hello again. Alexei Ruslan here with another part of a special expose on “The Battle for PRIME.” I’m here, once again, with Praporshchik Ivan Stanislav.
He nods to Stanislav, who is sitting in yet another chair. Behind him are the smashed remnants of his previous chair. Rest in pieces, chair. Stanislav looks a little more annoyed.
Ivan Stanislav: Thanks Alexei.
Ruslan clears his throat.
Alexei Ruslan: We discussed the importance of courage in our last segment, but tell me, what do you think about strength of character? Does that factor into this match at all, Praporshchik?
Ivan Stanislav: Absolutely I do. You know, Alexei, many people believe that Brandon Youngblood and myself have nothing in common. This is not the case. While indeed, my career has far surpassed Brandon’s in terms of prestige and importance, he too has had a fair career in PRIME. We also command great respect from the locker room. Even down to our families. I have lost a brother to war. He lost a brother to, well, suicide.
Stanislav crosses one of his huge legs, the chair beneath him whines.
Ivan Stanislav: Admittedly, suicide is the coward’s way out. It hurts so many people and shows lack of conviction and personal strength. It is a selfish gesture. But then again, is not Brandon Youngblood himself nothing more than a selfish fellow? Could you imagine having to listen to a sibling like Brandon Youngblood, day in and day out? When you consider this fact, it is hardly surprising that his brother did what needed to be done.
Ivan chuckles but he doesn’t smile.
Ivan Stanislav: But Youngblood likes to joke a lot. He jokes about dead soldiers. He even joked about locking my mother in prison. What kind of character is this? Hardly a worthy human being, let alone a champion! Which is why, come UltraViolence, I will take great pleasure in showing Brandon Youngblood what he could have been. He could have been a real man, like myself. But instead? He wriggles on his belly for the lowest common denominator and tarnishes an already soiled name.
Stanislav looks right at the camera.
Ivan Stanislav: You never had someone properly teach you a lesson, Brandon Youngblood. I’ll do my best to beat some sense into you. I doubt you’ll be smart enough to learn. All the better.
Stanislav smiles as the scene fades to red.
PLEASE WELCOME THE NEWEST MEMBER OF THE RED ARMY
Red lights in the arena.
A loud orchestral chord.
Yes, it’s The Red Army. As “The Soviet National Anthem” explodes through the arena sound system and the lights adjust appropriately.
Nick Stuart: Not that I subscribe to Think Red, but Alexei Ruslan did mention a new member of The Red Army.
Richard Parker: Is it you, Nick? It’s you, isn’t it?
Nick Stuart: Don’t hold your breath.
Alexei Ruslan grins wide with the Masters of the Moscowverse flanking him. Ruslan lifts his hands into the air and waves to the crowd, as if immune to the boos and instead hears nothing but cheers. The trio then turn and motion to the backstage area as the lumbering Russian Bear, Ivan Stanislav, emerges and the boos only intensify.
Still, the four members of The Red Army make the most of it. They wave to the crowd. Alexei waves to a red faced fan who shoots him the double bird. Stanislav lets out a guffaw as he points down at another group of fans who give him a thumbs down. He responds to them by wiping sweat from his brow and flicking it in their faces.
Together, they all climb into the ring, with Ruslan producing a microphone from his brown overcoat. With Stanislav standing in the middle, the Masters to his left and right, and Ruslan in front of him, Alexei speaks.
Alexei Ruslan: Helloooooo Cleveland!!!
Alexei Ruslan: I expect no less from you all. My, you have not changed since the twenty-odd years we have been here! But, there is no reason to dilly-dally, is there! I promised you all a grand announcement, did I not?
Stanislav nods his head and grins.
Alexei Ruslan: We have a new member of The Red Army! If I can direct your attention to PRIMEView! And while I would like to introduce her myself, please, why don’t you do the honors, Comrade!
There is a dimming of the lights, a setting of the ambiance. The camerawork fading in upon the PRIMEView is cinematic in its approach. The soft chop of a helicopter. A look down upon tall trees and a gray, rain misting overcast. In bold letters, words fill the bottom of the screen.
The Pacific Northwestern United States
So many trees, some with leaves shifting in color. Is fall truly so closely upon us? From the scene, we are greeted by the soft tones of a woman, seasoned with a hint of rasp.
???: It’s a simple life. At first, you don’t understand how you can give up so much of yourself. Who you are. What you are. But the community needs you. Everyone plays their role. So many people think of collectivism in this way like a machine. Some big, bad, red machine. But it’s not that at all.
The scene descends upon a clearing of simple canvas and wooden yurts. There are no cars. Just simple structures and equipment.
???: It’s not a machine because it’s not made. Call it what you will. Communism…socialism…it makes no difference. It’s just natural. Nature itself. Call it red…
Groups of people in simple woolen clothing, made by themselves. The camera glides past them, their muddy and dusty faces blending together, all before focusing upon one singular individual. A woman with pin straight brown locks, the fringes a mixture of red and gray streaks. Her features as so familiar, tickling the periphery, a sort of dawning of identity to those deep in the know. Most have no knowledge of who she is. Of how important this moment is for the Red Army.
The words that follow remove all doubt.
???: My name is Lindsay Youngblood…and I think it’s beautiful…
The voice of Nick Stuart breaks through.
Nick Stuart: Wait…what the…are you telling me…
Richard Parker: Brandon Youngblood’s own family has abandoned him!
Alexei Ruslan can’t help but beam in pride. Of all the wonderful ways he has been able to further the message and importance of his cause, this one is a masterstroke. The fans are booing heavily, a mere cherry atop the sundae. They don’t understand the full breadth.
How deep he had to tunnel.
How far he had to go.
Brandon Youngblood thought he was made of stone?
Say hello to your baby sister, Tower of Babble. The one who, after the fall of the house of Youngblood, ran the gamut of breakdown, to homelessness, to substance abuse…to living in nature itself with the rest of a commune in Oregon. He hadn’t heard from her in years.
Yet here she was, before the entire world, ready to swear allegiance to Ivan Stanislav and his life’s work.
Lindsay Youngblood: When I was approached by Alexei Ruslan…
The tones of her speech shift ever so slightly. A seam presenting in ‘truth’.
Lindsay Youngblood: I felt so strongly that I had no choice, no alternative…
The camera catches shots of her, working, splitting wood, collecting animal skins, tanning hides. Never do we see her lips moving.
Lindsay Youngblood: It’s not about professional wrestling. It’s about looking at the world for what it is. My brother…my supposed brother…when I needed him most…he abandoned me…
Following the seam. Realize that despite no spared expense, certain technology hasn’t exactly completely become peerless.
Lindsay Youngblood: The death of our mother…he abandoned me. But in the time since, over the course of a year, I have gotten to know the heart of Alexei Ruslan. And most importantly, I have gotten to know the heart of my true brother, someone who isn’t a coward…who wouldn’t have left me in poverty and to fend for myself in the street. Someone who would have nurtured when I thought every night might be my last. My real brother. Ivan Stanis–
BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD
SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE
LET THE GALAXY BURN
Bloodsport (World Domination) by HEALTH is playing catch up.
The Universal Champion is in a dead sprint to the ring.
Alexei drops his microphone. Kenny Freeman instinctively backs away. Randall Schwartz is..well…Randall. The only one who seems to truly understand what is coming is the readying Ivan Stanislav, who is making no secret of his intent to strike Youngblood down the moment he can.
The Diamond slides under the bottom rope and into the ring, getting to his feet and making a beeline directly for Stanislav. Murderous intent finds the Russian Bear in the form of a hellaciously heavy elbow. The blow connects, and where most shots wouldn’t stagger the massive form of Ivan, this one, catching him in the jaw, forces him to take a step back, for his eyes to close and water.
Youngblood takes the opportunity to throw a volley of punches, closed fisted punches right to the head of Stanislav. Like hitting granite. The Diamond doesn’t care. These blows only serve to wake up The Inevitable, a forceful shove sending Youngblood to his back. He doesn’t stay down long, rolling back up to his feet, launching himself back in the direction of the challenger of the Universal Championship, and this time, it’s unstoppable force meeting immovable object.
Nick Stuart: These two are going to tear each other apart!
LET THEM FIGHT!
LET THEM FIGHT!
LET THEM FIGHT!
The Cleveland crowd is making this noise because the Red Army is interjecting. Ivan throws his own heavy blows, but as he does, Kenny Freeman and Randall Schwartz try to grab at the Tower of Babel. Alexei isn’t getting involved, instead cheering on his men.
Richard Parker: This isn’t a comedy duo holding you, Brandon, it’s the Red Army! And they have a cause they can believe in, that they’ve pledged themselves to–
Youngblood somehow manages to wiggle free of their slimy grasps, hurling himself, throwing elbows, fists, anything and everything. Stanislav nearly folds him with a headbutt, or so it would seem. As fucked up as it may seem, these two men, so different, have the same mind. They both launch with their heads, connecting with violent force.
Both men fall to the canvas.
Heads split wide open.
Nick Stuart: OH MY WORD!
The fall sends everyone in the vicinity backward. Universal Champion and challenger stagger to a knee, a glassing over of eyes. Whatever they hit each other with, it rattles something loose. The verbal attacks, the gymnastics, all of it…it falls away. This is who they are. What they are beneath it all. Two weapons of war, sharpened through decades, on a collision course.
And despite their boastful words…neither man knows who will win.
It’s fear of this unknown that pushes them forward, having to know. Angry at feeling such things. They must hurt each other. Must make the other know true pain. The rest of the world melts away. It’s Ivan and it’s Brandon. Attacking each other. A double leg. A mount and powerful blows from elbows and fists. Brandon has the advantage to start, but quickly, Ivan, impressively, despite age, despite size, is quick with his hips, powering through, working to get his own mount. Such a sight is the thing of nightmares. The power he wields. Anvils coming down at their target.
A few miss.
Most would think it’s to defend Brandon, who might well die right here, right now. Except…one of those missing shots becomes a chance to grab hold of a guillotine choke, and there is no hesitation. Full force. Youngblood’s face is a mess. Blood. Swelling. Yet through it, we see his eyes, wild, threatening, pulsing, as he clamps the hold.
There is no escape. A bear trap. A damn bear trap!
Ruslan is helpless!
Schwartz kicks at the head of Youngblood to save the Russian Bear, and he does.
His reward, as the two heavies find a moment of space?
Cleanly jerked and tossed overhead with a belly to belly suplex.
Kenny Freeman is next, another belly to belly.
Ivan isn’t having it. He crashes into the raging Diamond with a lariat that is more body and forearm. We see now that Stanislav’s face isn’t just thinking red…it’s bathing in it. Incensed. He roars. He’s going to Iron Curtain this bastard into paste! And just as he’s about to lift him, another headbutt. And another. Ivan won’t be undone! He smashes heads with Youngblood himself.
The Enemigos flock from the back, making a beeline to the ring, trying to tackle both men. To bring order. Blood soaked and wanting to tear each other limb from limb, Diamond and Bear treat them as mere hurdles. Charging forward. Throwing wild, errant blows at one another.
The Enemigos are overmatched.
Arena security floods the ring, filling it. The Enemigos at least can make an attempt to stop this onslaught. The Rocket Mortgage Arena crew? They’re getting tossed to and fro like ragdolls. Suplexes. Chokeslams. Treated like complete sacks of shit.
Get the fuck out of the way…the two most feared men in all of professional wrestling have fighting to do.
Dametreyus is on the ramp, making his way to the ring. And by his side? In street clothes?
The Enemigos finally make some headway, the Champion and The Inevitable seeming to tire enough from rage overdrive to be handleable. They aren’t. A sudden burst has the two colliding again, roaring, yelling at each other.
It is only when Dam and Wade get in there, seeming to command full damn legions, that separation happens.
Ivan tries to pull free, but a tangle of limbs, so many hands, prevents him. As does the massive form of Dam.
Across the ring, the same visual can be seen, except it’s Wade playing the pivotal role.
There is barely a single bit of the ring uncovered. Sweat, blood, unbridled rage.
Nick Stuart: SOMEBODY GET SOME DAMN CONTROL OF THESE TWO!
You think, Nick? You really think?
The scene fades. The only reason the show doesn’t continue with these two trying to go at each other? Because of the sheer amount of bodies utilized to pull them away.
Want to see more?
Lindsay Troy doesn’t want you to see any more. She doesn’t like this one bit. Doesn’t like the idea of two of her biggest draws trying to give each other concussions. Doesn’t like the scene that unfolded with arena security being absolutely shitcanned.
Doesn’t like the very notion that, when Brandon Youngblood and Ivan Stanislav come to blows in a few weeks, there might not be enough bodies to stop them from tearing each other apart and destroying everything with them.
If only there was a way to fix that.
White text appears.
“Fate whispers to the warrior, ‘You cannot withstand the storm.’
“The warrior whispers back, ‘I am the storm.’”
The letters disappear. Diagetic sound begins.Gusts of wind. A downpour of rain. Distant thunder.
A voiceover. Smooth as velvet and as stern as steel.
“All my life, I was told I was destined for great things.”
Infrequent flashes of light reveal the unsettling outline of a monstrous cumulonimbus, revealing the “black” to be a light-obscuring cloud of destruction encompassing the entire screen.
“I used to believe that.”
Flecks of rain hit the screen. A smattering at first, but in a moment’s time, it escalates into a full shower, drenching the screen as though it were a pane of glass.
“After all, I had all the advantages going for me. The pedigree. The training. The connections…”
Slow zoom out. The camera actually is fixed on a pane of glass, as revealed by the reflection of a man’s face.
“And perhaps arguably most important of all… the drive.”
The owner of the face comes into view, head and shoulders turned from the camera’s view. But the expression we see reflecting off the window is one of silent and angry stoicism.
Fearless in the face of the heavenly wrath bearing down on him.
“Yet even with all that, ‘greatness’ has always felt just beyond my fingertips.”
Dark eyes, pondering ruefully. Darker hair, slicked back (iykyk). Even darker designer suit, fitting him like a king.
“It took a lot of years of strife, struggle, and pain to learn a valuable lesson.”
Suddenly, a magnificent bolt of lighting shatters the sky, accompanied by a crashing peal of thunder.
Everything in view is lost in the light.
“Destiny is just a pipe dream.”
When the light subsides, the location and the man’s appearance have suddenly changed.
“And I’m now living wide awake.”
He stands on a stage in a sports arena, gazing into a different kind of storm. Thousands of screaming fans, surrounding a majestically-lit squared circle waiting at the end of the aisleway before him.
“I owe it to myself to defy whatever ‘destiny’ has in store for me, and claim greatness on my own terms.”
His suit is gone. His bare back displays an elaborate irezumi piece spanning his well sculpted shoulders to his lower back.
A grinning green storm dragon riding through clouds of black.
“A storm is coming, PRIME…”
Thunder CLAPS again.
The rumble segues into the thumping beginning of “Blouses Blue” by Konrad OldMoney feat. Sleep Steady. The man strides down the rampway.
Ready to claim what’s his.
“…and its name is Kerry Kuroyama.”
Lightning flashes across the screen once more, sending everything back to black.
We then fade to the backstage area.
APPLE OF MY EYE
As the camera catches up backstage the familiar voice of PRIME’s senior referee, Timo Bolamba, can be heard jovially conversing with the rest of the officiants. He walks toward a door clearly marked with his name and pushes it open absentmindedly while complimenting his team.
Timo Bolamba: Ashley, your counts are crisp and precise. I also think we should take a moment to acknowledge that Elvis has worked a lot on his timing and technique for the slide on the cover. Great job all around. If you can come with me to my office we can review last week’s main…
The Samoan Silencer stops dead in his tracks as he opens the door and sees Eddie Cross slumped against a filing cabinet. His GG shirt is torn and barely hanging by the collar. Blood streaks down the front, clearly from gouges to his forehead. His neck is already showing signs of bruising where he has been constricted to the point of unconsciousness.
Timo rushes forward and kneels next to his son. He tears a piece of the olive drab shirt and wipes some of the blood from his face. The Samoan turns around to his team and without saying a word, Jimmy Turnbull rushes off down the hall to look for help.
Timo Bolamba: Atali’i… What have I done?
Ashley Barlow steps into the room and places a hand on Timo’s shoulder. He looks up and streaks run down his painted face.
Ashley Barlow: We’ll get the medics to take care of him. You have to get out there for the next match.
Timo holds his son’s hand and says something in Samoan to him. He stands up and his broad frame towers over Ashley. The Samoan nods to her, then to Elvis Nixon, and he walks out of the room without a word to head to the ring for the next match.
As he leaves, Jimmy Turnbull rushes in with several medics and they set to work while the officiating team looks on in concern for Eddie.
We then return to the ringside area for our next match.
HAYES HANLON VS. THE ANGLO LUCHADOR
Nick Stuart: Up next we have quite the spectacular match up. Fresh off a loss for the Universal Championship and second hardest working man in PRIME, The Anglo Luchador, will take on former two time Universal Champion, Hayes Hanlon, in one on one competition. Hayes, considered by most to be having somewhat of a down cycle, has been that way since being eliminated at Tropical Turmoil.
Richard Parker: Oh. Joy.
The arena darkens.
The first dabs of the organ intro to “Oye Como Va” by Santana fill the arena as purple and green lights strobe while the telltale mask of the Anglo Luchador rotate on the CRUMBOTRON. Smoke begins to waft across the entryway as the instrumenThe Anglo Luchador beginning of the song swells into its big climax.
Nick Stuart: You ever see these guys live?
Richard Parker: Mexico City. 78. So. Much. Blow.
Right before the lyrics sound, The Anglo Luchador appears from the back, looking out at the crowd. He exhales and bows his head before he takes his final stride towards the ring.
Nick Stuart: Big match for The Luchador tonight with some even bigger questions surrounding it. Can he bounce back after taking Youngblood down to the wire, but ultimately still coming up short? And what type of shape is his body in after putting it though hell for the chance to walk across the sun? Also, does he have a shock collar up his sleeve for Hayes Hanlon?
Richard Parker: Time will tell.
Vince Howard announces The Anglo Luchador after he enters the ring. The Anglo Luchador gets a nice ovation from both the PRIMEates in attendance and his zombie fan club in Kensington.
Nick Stuart: I said The Anglo Luchador was coming off a tough loss, well so is his opponent tonight, Hayes Hanlon. In a somewhat shocking turn of events, well, shocking to everyone not named Vicky Hall that is, Hayes was felled by Johnathan Christoper Hall on ReVival 32.
Richard Parker: Didn’t JCH once beat Cancer Jiles as well? So, maybe not so surprising to KING KEWL, either. HA. Also, who beat Jiles at COOLOSSUS for the Universal Title again?
Nick Stuart: Well that would be the man who still has to make his way down to the ring.
Richard Parker: Cool. Thanks for ruining my segue.
Distorted guitar heralds a black hole emerging on the CRUMBOTRON 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
CRUMBOTRON 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.
Richard Parker: Wait. Something seems off here. Isn’t there supposed to be?
Nick Stuart: You’re right. Something is off. There’s a person missing from the equation.
Richard Parker: Where is that lazy bum Timo at? Don’t tell me he’s still looking after his kid! That prepubescent shitstain takes up enough time on this show as it is. If he’s gonna start bleeding into other people’s business then he’s got to go!
Nick Stuart: Harsh sentiment but it seems to have worked. Well, to some extent.
Out from the back and briskly jogging down to the ring, while also being clearly distracted by what transpired just a short while ago, FINALLY, is PRIME’s Senior Referee and habitual Cancer Jiles quick counter, Timo Bolamba.
Nick Stuart: LOOK! Timo never even fixed his face paint from the tears running down his face. Poor guy.
Timo slides into the ring and catches a sideways look from both Hayes and TAL. The Bolambian assures them both that everything is fine, and tells them to focus on the match and not to worry about young Eddie Cross.
Maybe that’s what he said to them; the camera’s didn’t pick up the audio.
Both competitors slowly, and carefully, circle each other before finding their way to the center of the ring. They lock up via collar and elbow tie up. After a short struggle, Hayes bullies The Anglo Luchador into the corner. Timo gets in between them, breaks the hold, and resets the match.
Nick Stuart: Hayes has about fifty pounds on Anglo Luchador. It might be a long night if TAL thinks he’ll be able to stand toe to toe with him.
Again, Hayes and The Anglo Luchador circle each other, and again, each meet in the center of the ring. This time around it is The Anglo Luchador who gets the best of the collar and elbow tie up by pushing Hayes back into the corner. Timo once again gets in between them, breaks the hold, and resets the match.
Nick Stuart: I stand corrected.
The crowd swoons.
Once again the two circle. Once again they meet in the center of the ring. However, no collar and elbow tie up this time around.
Nick Stuart: These two have wrestled in a combined forty-one ReVival Era matches. Singles matches. Still. Forty. One. That’s a big, respectable, number right there, wouldn’t ya say so?
Richard Parker: No wonder I’m always miserable– I can’t stand either one of these guys. In fact, I bet if The Anglo Luchasnore’s mask fell off that Highball Hayes would pick it up and hand it back to him. Like a frie–
Hanlon reaches back like he’s throwing someone out from the warning track and smacks The Anglo Luchador across his Saxon themed mask with an exposed palm.
Nick Stuart: Or he would slap him across the face! HOLY SHIT!
The Event Horizon informs Tom that he’s not there to drink tequila and sing Santana songs. He’s there to fight. So, Tom, being a man of faith, kindly returns the favor and tries to shave the mustache from Hayes’s face with an open hand smack of his own.
Nick Stuart: Let’s see what happens now that the proverbial gloves are off.
The Anglo Luchador and Hayes go masked nose to bare nose. You can see the red hand print on Hayes’ left cheek. Luckily for The Anglo Luchador he has the mask, or I’m sure you’d see something similar.
Richard Parker: Looks like I might not fall asleep during this match afterall.
The two exchange a flurry of barbs towards one another. Then, the two exchange a flurry of rights and lefts that see neither man relenting.
Richard Parker: KILL!!!
Hayes takes a homerun swing with a double ax handle, but Tom ducks it. The second generation wrestler then shoots off a tweet, hits the ropes, shoots off another tweet, and connects with a flying head scissors.
Nick Stuart: Hayes is down!
Somewhat flabbergasted from all the whimsy, Hayes quickly rushes upright only to be met with a stiff standing dropkick from The Anglo Luchador. The impact sends Hayes reeling back to the ropes, which The Anglo Luchador takes advantage of by springing upright, charging in, and clotheslining Hayes over the top rope and to the outside of the ring!
Nick Stuart: What an opening sequence from The Anglo Luchador!
Richard Parker: Wait! He’s not done!
Nick Stuart: OHMYGAWD! Corkscrew Thermonuclear Warhead Thunderclap Mount St. Helens Plancha TO THE OUTSIDE!!
HUGE POP FROM THE PRIMEATES!
Nick Stuart: Turn back the clock! That’s not arthritis in those knees but spring and pep!
Both men are down.
Timo begins to count.
Hayes is suffering from the worst of it. The Anglo Luchador shuffles to his feet. He gives Hayes a look that says, hey pal you wanted this, and then pulls him upright. He goes to Irish Whip him into the steel steps at ringside, but Hayes, the young, desperate, seasoned veteran of the sport that he is, reverses the move and instead it’s The Anglo Luchador that goes awkwardly plowing shoulder first into the steel steps!
Nick Stuart: The youthful veteran savvy of Hanlon might have just saved him there.
Hanlon enters the ring under the bottom rope to catch his breath and recover from the early barrage while The Anglo Luchador rolls around on the outside grabbing at his shoulder. Timo, also inside the ring, reaches the count of SEVEN before Hayes decides to go back outside.
Timo starts a fresh count.
Hayes, being the jolly-swell guy he is, helps The Anglo Luchador up to his feet. Then, Hayes, being the cut throat competitor he is, scoops up The Anglo Luchador and delivers a shoulder breaker to the very same shoulder TAL awkwardly plowed into the steel steps with.
Nick Stuart: I bet that hurt.
The Homerun Kid lands a few boots to TAL’s shoulder area, drops a precise elbow on the place those boots of his were kicking, and then locks in a modified arm bar that really torques back on his opponent’s shoulder.
The bad one.
Richard Parker: The Snoreador is screaming like someone told him he couldn’t have a salted rim on his margarita ice cream cone! HA!
Nick Stuart: He sure is! But there’s one problem. Hayes can’t beat him on the outside!
Timo reaches the count of NINE, which causes Hayes to quickly release the hold and roll back into the ring. Then, without contemplation Hayes rolls right back outside which causes Timo to restart the count.
Nick Stuart: Looked like The Paladin of PRIME might not have been able to get back into the ring in time, and Hayes could have just won by count out if he had just stayed put.
Richard Parker: He’ll probably say something about having honor or that cork in a baseball bat is wrong and that’s why he did it. Disgusting little bat boy. If I didn’t already hope he loses, which I do, then I certainly do now.
Timo begins a fresh count yet again. Hayes doesn’t waste much time reapplying the modified arm bar/shoulder torquer as evidenced by him doing so before Timo can reach the count of two.
Nick Stuart: So you’re pulling for the Luchador then?
Richard Parker: No, I hope he loses, too.
Nick Stuart: Interesting. I bet that close double countout was quite the tease then.
Richard Parker: Indubitably.
Timo reaches the count of SIX. Hayes releases the hold, calmly rolls back into the ring under the bottom rope, takes a beat, and then yet again rolls right back out to restart the count. Timo sighs, but resigns to his fate.
Richard Parker: Timo’s gonna have his own children’s book on how to count to ten at this rate. I’m sure young Eddie could use it in his rehabilitation.
Nick Stuart: This started off so well for The Anglo Luchador, but now it’s all Hanlon. Maybe a match against Brandon Youngblood is all that it’s cracked out to be.
The Event Horizon goes to reapply the modified arm bar that so far has been quite effective at making Timo count while also destroying TAL’s shoulder joint. But, The Anglo Luchador has been in tough spots before, and musters the will to roll out of harm’s way. He quickly finds his feet, and using his good arm lands a knife edge chop to Hayes’ chest. He lands another knife edge chop that not only staggers Hayes, but also leaves his one nipple chaffed and bleeding. The Anglo Luchador then uses the opening to jump from atop the second steel step and land a hurricanrana on the former Universal Champion!
Timo screams out the number EIGHT.
The Anglo Luchador hastily darts back inside the ring.
Hayes survives the sting of the knife edge chops, shakes free of the cobwebs from the hurricanrana…..
…..and barely makes it back inside the squared circle at the count of NINE point SEVEN.
Nick Stuart: Now wouldn’t that have been ironic?
Hayes is up on his feet. He’s not charging in though, rather he’s hunched over catching his breath and tending to his bloody nipple. The Anglo Luchador is down on one knee; determination and grit are the only things stopping him from buckling over from the pain emanating from his shoulder.
Nick Stuart: Crunch time.
In a show of defiance The Anglo Luchador motions for Hayes to come and get him with his injured arm. Hanlon charges in, feigning reckless abandon. Instead of attacking, he shoots around TAL, going by him on the side of his bad shoulder. He wraps his arms around TAL’s waist, and delivers a release German Suplex that sends The Anglo Luchador flying halfway across the ring.
Richard Parker: Someone is racking up frequent flyer miles this match.
However, it seems Hayes’ release was too great. Across the vast distance The Anglo Luchador is able to find his bearings and land on his feet. Luckily the ropes are there to keep him from overrating out of the ring.
Still, TAL lands it nonetheless.
And better yet, Hayes has no idea. He’s decided to keep his back turned, and rally the crowd instead. As such, The Anglo Luchador moves in, and spins around Hanlon so that he’s facing him. Shellshocked, Hanlon wildly swings and The Anglo Luchador uses his good arm to block the attack. Through a bit of shiftiness The Anglo Luchador is able to surprise roll up Hayes with a tight Magistral Cradle.
Timo drops down.
Maybe it’s a millisecond late because he was thinking about his son.
Maybe it’s as fast as he possibly could.
Maybe it doesn’t matter.
Nick Stuart: Did he get him?!
Nick Stuart: Hayes powers out! That was close!
Richard Parker: The old vet almost pulled one over on the young vet. Also, not to cause a controversy, but it looked like Timo might have been a tad late there in our bouts FIRST pin attempt. Just saying.
A quick instant replay up on the CRUMBO shows Hayes kicking out at the last possible millisecond, and not before the count happened to determine if Timo was preoccupied or not. Regardless, the match continues, and it does so how it started. With both competitors standing in the center of the ring beating the shit out of each other. Chops. Punches. Kicks. Dodges. Blocks. A few questionable shots around the belt and eyes.
Nick Stuart: The Anglo Luchador and Hayes Hanlon are refusing to give in to the other.
Having two good shoulders, matters.
Being a prodigy, matters.
As such, Hayes waits for The Anglo Luchador to use his bad arm to attack him, and the moment he does, Hayes grabs a hold of it like a drowning man would a plank of passing by wood. He uses his tight grip to pull TAL close, and then plants him into the canvas with a belly to belly suplex.
RIchard Parker: Old Hayes made sure Luchadork wasn’t going to weasel out of that one.
Nick Stuart: Sure did.
Hayes sticks the landing.
Timo, hopefully alert, does his best to drop down as fast as he can to count the pin.
Nick Stuart: Kick out by The Anglo Luchador! I don’t care what condition he might be in, it’s going to take more than that to put away the former Intense Champion.
The Event Horizon gets to his feet. He exhaustedly reaches down and pulls The Anglo Luchador upright by his mask. Hanlon then pounds away on the shoulder he’s been working on throughout the match which drops TAL down to a knee. The Homerun Kid does his best Babe Ruth impression, and signals to the crowd that it is over.
Nick Stuart: It’s EPOCH time!
Hayes whips TAL into the ropes, setting him up for the end. When Hayes goes to pop him up, TAL, using the last of his survival instincts, presses down on Hayes’ shoulders and lands directly behind Hayes.
This is when TAL, who is primed to attack Hayes in Hayes’ blindspot, should have won the match. However, something flashes across the CRUMBOTRON that robs him of his attention.
Nick Stuart: WHAT WAS THAT!?
Richard Parker: I’m not sure what it was that I just saw. Mainly because Craig never detailed it in the notes.
Nick Stuart: Regardless of what it is or was or will be, it just cost The Anglo Luchador this matchup. He had Hayes dead to rights. Now, he’s spinning almost seven feet in the air.
Instead of attacking when he should have, The Anglo Luchador becomes distracted by something that flashes across the CRUMBOTRON. Hayes, not distracted, turns around, reaches out and before TAL realizes it he’s being lifted in the air by the throat.
Nick Stuart: EPOCH!
RIchard Parker: Ain’t going to matter if Timo takes a nap before counting the pin. Hayes got all of it. The Angoon Luchador is out.
Hanlon drops down for the cover. He hooks a leg for good measure.
A last ditch leg kick.
Lifeless, and ineffective as it might be.
The bell rings.
DING DING DING
Hanlon cautiously rolls off of TAL, and gingerly gets back to his feet. Timo raises his hand in hard fought victory. Instead of shining, Hayes leaves the ring to his elder, and heads back up the entrance ramp. Timo checks in with TAL, who is slowly coming to. He then leaves the ring to go and tend to his son.
Alone, The Anglo Luchador slowly rolls out of the ring…
The Anglo Luchador leans against the ring, shaking his head to clear the beads of sweat. At this point he’d just walk up the ramp and go about his business.
But he doesn’t do that, because the PRIMEView lights up.
TAL is confused, but he watches, even though the footage isn’t clear. It’s night time, wherever we are, and a camera follows a shadow up a sidewalk. There’s not a lot of light, but just enough for TAL to slowly realize what he’s seeing. His eyes go wide.
On the PRIMEView, the light improves slightly – after all, the camera has come upon some floodlights. And while this gives some more light on the shadowy person, they are wearing black sweatpants and a black hoodie pulled up over their face, so for now they can’t be identified.
Nick Stuart: I’m not sure what’s going on right now.
TAL certainly seems to know. His hands go to his his head, wiping his face quickly as his eyes stay glued to the screen. In front of the house, the camera gets close enough to the assailant so that we could see their face if they chose to raise the hood up. Luckily for us, they choose to do that at this exact moment, and the fierce brown eyes of Paxton Ray pierce the camera.
Paxton Ray: Hey Tommy.
Nick Stuart: That’s Paxton Ray! But what is he doing?
Paxton Ray: Prolly feels familiar to ya by now. But make no mistake, I ain’t no Snidely Whiplash type like Pleasant. I ain’t flyin’ drones. This is a personal visit.
At ringside, The Anglo Luchador lurches forward, as if to sprint. But he knows that isn’t logical. There is nothing he can do. So he stands there, eyes filled with fury, shouting at the man who can’t hear him.
Paxton Ray: You’re so high’n mighty. Actin’ like strappin’ a shock collar to someone is noble. Actin’ like takin’ somebody’s kid is a valiant act. Like you’re an actual fuckin’ hero. Well, I know your boys are inside, Tommy. Let’s see how heroic ya think this is.
And Nick Stuart has finally caught on to why TAL was immediately upset.
Nick Stuart: Wait…that’s The Anglo Luchador’s house! And he’s…no! He wouldn’t!
Richard Parker: I’m sorry to say, Nick, that he absolutely would.
Paxton Ray: All right, let’s see which’a these windows is the boys room.
He walks across the lawn, grabbing what appears to be a potted plant along the way. He surveys the front, then takes a casual look back to make sure the cameraman is the only person on the street with him. He nods, then raises the plant.
From the house comes the Luchador’s brother, Mikey.
Richard Parker: I got a bad feeling about this, Nick.
Nick Stuart: Hey, Mikey used to wrestle.
Richard Parker: That was 15 years ago.
Mike is clad in basketball shorts, a white t-shirt, and flip-flops.
Mikey: What’chu doin’ here you fuckface?
Paxton doesn’t answer, but instead wings the flowerpot with Randy Johnson velocity at the youngest Battaglia brother. Mikey ducks out of the way at the last second.
The earthen clay pot shatters as it smashes against the manicured lawn. As Mikey turns around…
Nick Stuart: PAXTON RAY HAS POUNCED ON MIKEY!
Richard Parker: Look, Nick, you know my whole deal, but I can’t even stomach this. Mike’s a non-competitor. And this is a home invasion!
Mikey stumbles backwards, and Paxton advances, smelling blood, but Mike quickly plants a short kick into Paxton’s breadbasket. Three boxing jabs later, and Paxton is on rollerskates. The shot back in the arena shows the Luchador’s face relent slightly as his brother seems to have Paxton on his heels.
Nick Stuart: Could this be? Can he hold off the Butcher until the authorities can get there?
As good as an underdog story as this is in this millisecond, there’s one thing you all have to remember at Michael Vincenzo Battaglia. He might be five years clean, but years of opioid abuse does a number on your body, whereas Paxton Ray is a world-class athlete training in, no matter what the detractors might say, a world-class gym. As Mike charges, in his flip-flops, he doesn’t have nearly the burst needed to get to the Redneck Einstein before he could react.
Richard Parker: Oh no.
Nick Stuart: Cut the camera. CUT THE CAMERA.
The production truck does not listen to Nick reacting to Paxton stepping on the back of Mike’s flip-flop as he sidesteps the bull rush. Mike goes flying, skidding on the lawn. Before he can get up, Paxton is on him like a gator finding a napping flamingo in the swamp. A clubbing elbow to the back of Mikey’s neck, then Paxton turns him over, and the blows rain down like a summer thunderstorm.
Nick Stuart: CUT IT! WE DON’T NEED TO SEE THIS!
Richard Parker: I…
The color drains from the Luchador’s neck and presumably his face underneath his mask. He falls to his knees as Paxton Ray’s bloodied fists rain down on his brother’s unconscious face and neck. Finally, sirens are heard in the background indicating the police are close. Paxton rises from his assault, hands and shirt covered in blood. He turns to the cameraman still filming everything.
Paxton Ray: It’s a shame ya got saved by the bell, Tommy. ‘Cause if you and this chump are any indication…those boys need a real man in their life. Coulda been me.
He starts to walk away, with the cameraman following him. As he hurries towards the street, he looks over his shoulder at the camera.
Paxton Ray: An’ as bad as this coulda been for ya, pal? It’s gonna get worse.
The PRIMEview statics out as the Luchador falls to his knees.
Nick Stuart: I, I’m sorry to all the viewers at home who had to watch that.
Richard Parker: Cut to commercial. CUT TO A GODDAMN COMMERCIAL.
The Luchador remains broken on his knees as the camera cuts to said commercial.
COMMERCIAL: MILO FLYNN CUP 2023
CONSIDER OUR ENEMIES ADDRESSED
From commercial, we cut backstage where Simon Tillier is currently performing the sign of the cross in front of a conference room door, clearly wearing the expression of a man who definitely regrets a lot of his life choices. Like this one. This one he’s doing right now.
He knocks on the door, and he enters into yet another nightmare scenario perpetrated upon him by Joe Fontaine and Sid Phillips of the Glue Man Group.
So, first of all, Joe and Sid. Yes. They’re here. We just mentioned them, welcome to the segment. I know it’s been a long show so far, probably a lot of hijinks… I mean, how about that Hanlon versus TAL match, am I right? I’m right. We’re so right. In the interest of being right, we should mention that Sid has a bucket of popcorn because it’s the only thing that can possibly distract him from powerbombing his way out of this important peace summit.
Three championship belts sit neatly in a pile on the Glues’ end of the table, the two Bang! With Your Partner Championships and the ever enticing Bang! All Day Championship that is technically on the line right this second. Against whom? Against the field. That field? A couple of goofs sitting across the table…Kenny Freeman and Randall Schwartz, the Masters of the Moscowverse. Randall seems entirely distracted by the presence of the championship belts…do we still call them belts, or is that banned from PRIME vernacular? No matter, pal…while Randall stares at the titles, Kenny gives a glare at the Glue Man Group. Why the glare? Because a spot has been open for some time for the glareman of the PRIME roster.
Joe acknowledges Simon with a nod.
Joe Fontaine: There he is.
Simon Tillier: I want you to know that every time you ask me to interview you, I know it’s not going to be an interview and it’s going to be some sort of insanity you’ve concocted. You almost make me…
He hesitates. He doesn’t want to say the thing he’s thinking of: that he kinda misses Rezin.
He gives up and lets out a sigh.
Simon Tillier: So, what’s going on?
Joe Fontaine: Okay, you know how a couple of months ago, this guy…
He points across the table towards Kenny Freeman.
Joe Fontiane: …“addressed his enemies”?
Simon Tillier: Sure. Okay. What about it?
Joe Fontaine: Well, the implication of talking smack at us when he addressed his enemies presumed that we’re “enemies”. So we’re here to discuss that in an extra calm and ultra reasoned discussion between super adults.
Sid Phillips: I remember powerbombing them once. I could do that again. That could be the opening and ending of discussions, very convenient.
Joe Fontaine: No.
Sid throws his free hand up, and popcorn still goes everywhere despite the bucket being in his other hand.
Sid Phillips: God! I am never getting to powerbomb anyone in PRIME again, am I?
Kenny has had about enough of this mess, smacking his hand against the table with a thud.
Kenny Freeman: HEY! Let’s get this road on the show, shall we? I gotta…thing to go to later.
Randall nods absentmindedly in agreement, his gaze never averting from the championships.
Kenny Freeman: So, uh…what’s the issue here, fellas? I was, uh…I was in the heat of the moment when I made those statements.
Randall finally chimes in after nodding once again, finally focused on the task at hand.
Randall Schwartz: It’s true, Kenny was telling me about it on the drive over. He mostly just wanted an excuse to make the line about Sykes being nothing without his King Berry getup.
Kenny is now the one nodding in agreement, mouthing “just a man” as Randall Schwartz continues.
Randall Schwartz: So, if the issue is that we brought you fine gents up in the midst of all that…we’re sorry. We really are.
Sid Phillips: Alright, look, let’s just get into positions here. We’re on this side, you’re on that side. Simon, you’re all up in the middle. Just right up in there.
Simon Tillier: I don’t think that’s phrased in a way that’s safe for work.
Sid Phillips: Just right up in the middle.
Simon sighs and takes a seat at the center of the table. Joe sits down in his swivel chair and takes a big ‘ol spin. He even says “whee!” as he does it, and it’s very mature and no one is judging him for it at all.
Joe Fontaine: Okay! So, obviously, it’s a whole heat of the moment kind of thing and that’s great and all. And we might have said one or two things, ourselves, we’re not completely blind to that.
Sid Phillips: There might have been one or two powerbombs, too. Which I am not sorry for, that’s just how I communicate.
Joe Fontaine: Yeah, and we can ask Sid to be polite in this summit and not communicate in his native language. We good? Savvy?
Kenny and Randall look at each other, pondering the inquiry for a moment before nodding in agreement.
Randall Schwartz: We are, as the kids would say, gucci my fam.
Kenny literally cringes at the Entertainer’s attempt to be hip with the lingo, but still nods before chiming in himself.
Kenny Freeman: I think we all understand the most important thing here…which is that Jared Sykes is garbo, full stop.
Joe Fontaine: Hear, hear. One thousand bazillionty percent.
Simon Tillier: That is not a number.
Whatever point Simon has is quickly dashed aside as Joe continues to talk.
Joe Fontaine: The point is that we’re definitely in agreement that Jared Sykes is the pee pee poo poo man, and Justine Calvin is worse. Stupid toxic hell banshee. From hell. Am I right? Are we in agreement there?
On that point Randall nods furiously, but Kenny seems a little hesitant. Is it a crush? Sure hope not, that’d be weird for some reason. Eventually, the young man slowly nods in agreement with a shrug of the shoulders.
Joe Fontaine: Great!
Sid Phillips: He very much worried that you wouldn’t be in agreement and that I would have to explain things clearly in my native language.
Joe Fontaine: Yeah, glad it didn’t have to come to that. The translation from Sid’s language to English is a pain in the ass. A lot of transitive and non-transitive verbs, you know what I mean?
Sid Phillips: And back pain.
Joe Fontaine: And that.
The Masters agree with another nod, extending their hands out for a show of sportsmanship. Sportsmanship? In this economy!?
Joe smiles, stands, and walks over to shake some hands. Kenny meets him halfway, but just before they could make contact for a handshake, he suddenly shoots behind Joe and rolls him up!
As soon as this happens, Simon Tillier – of all people – recognizes what is happening, and quickly removes his shirt…revealing a referee’s jersey as he drops down to make the count!
There isn’t a bell to be rung, but Kenny jumps up to his feet and grabs the title belt that helpfully says “Bang! All Day” on it. And then he leaves so fast that if this were a cartoon, he’d have left a big ‘ol dust cloud. Speaking of cartoons, Randall Schwartz blazes out of there in his wheelchair, making noises that wouldn’t have sounded out of place in Jabberjaw.
Simon’s also leaving, though his departure is less rapid. It’s the departure of a man who has better things to do with his time and his life than this.
Joe sits up, bewildered. He looks up at the table to see that the Glue Man Group is now bereft one of their three championship belts. It takes him a few moments to comprehend what just happened, and when he does comprehend it… well…
Joe Fontaine: MOTHERFUC–
And wouldn’t you know it, we’re moving on! To another pre-tape?! Is no one here tonight?!
HOUSE OF THE HOLY
A camera pans down to a bright green field. Goldenrod, thistle and carrot flowers weave through tall grass on the strength of a warm summer breeze. Sitting alone in the center of the field is an old church, looking worse for wear due to the effects of time and neglect. The once white paint has chipped and peeled away to reveal rotting clapboards. Shingles have shaken loose and hang precariously from the eaves, leaving the roof dotted with small holes. Years ago, enterprising or bored teenagers climbed up there and snapped the cross at the top, making it look like a lowercase t, easier to do when there’s no steeple, but still quite a feat. Despite its state of disrepair, the church still stands.
Two old oak doors stand open, but not necessarily inviting. A broad shouldered man stands just inside. He is wearing a black frock and black wide-brimmed hat, his head is bowed solemnly and his hands are clasped together, as if in prayer. There is nothing but ruin ahead of him now, a vibrant congregation from a forgotten time and town are gone. Pews are tipped over, pushed around and have obscenities carved into them. Moldy bible pages are strewn around the room, long ripped from their holy bindings.
MAN: It has been so long since His love and light were stripped away from this place. It has been so long since His voice has been heard and His will has been carried out within these walls.
Stepping fully inside the church, he shakes his head in disbelief. Sparrows flit through the half-light and out broken stained glass windows. One of these broken pieces still contains the head of Mother Mary, eyes slightly closed, a slight smile on her face.
MAN: Once upon a time, I was known as the Fallen Angel. I was a man who had become bereft of faith, had lost all hope. There was nothing for me until one day I had reached the bottom, but I saw a glint light at the end of a long tunnel. It was His light. I found His gospel, the Good Word and in His name I was saved. I could no longer be called the Fallen Angel, but the Angel Among us. Among you.
The look on his face is one of remembrance, but is gone in a flash.
MAN: but I haven’t been among you, them, or anyone for the longest time. I have, however, been watching. PRIME Wrestling, I have been watching you and your unholy band of wrestlers. Men and women who have strayed, OH, how they have strayed from His light and are unworthy of His love.
He smiles again as he approaches the church’s altar. He stands at what’s left of a rotting lectern, looking out over his imaginary congregation.
MAN: PRIME Wrestling is filled with sheep who have strayed too far from His flock. The wolves are at your backs, and you have very little recourse for what is about to happen next. As His shepherd, I can protect you from the wolves. I can give you shelter from the storm.
He throws his arms out into a crucifix position, his voice booming through the decaying church.
MAN: I welcome you to the House of the Holy
He grins and tips his hat forward, the camera fading to the ringside area for our next match.
FIVE STAR TITLE MATCH: CECILWORTH FARTHINGTON (C) VS. NATE COLTON
A classic rock riff signals the beginning of “Tryin'” by the Eagles, and moments later Nate Colton emerges from the curtain. He waves an arm toward the fans, showing off the PRIME t-shirt covering his torso.
Vince Howard: This match is for the Five Star Championship. Coming down the aisle first, standing 6’4” inches tall and weighing 244 lbs. He’s fighting out of Evansville, Indiana… NAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE COOOOOOOOOOOLTON!
The reaction is very mixed.
Nick Stuart: I know he’s made some…interesting decisions lately, but it’s still jarring to see how much the crowd has turned against Nate Colton.
Richard Parker: They’re waking up, Nick! Now they’re seeing that Colton’s “nice guy” act was just that–an act! He’s a dirtbag, and now everyone knows it!
Nick Stuart: You’re just mad about the story from Savannah Scandal’s last column about you, Doug, and the shock collar.
Richard Parker: NO AND SHUT UP
Nate walks quickly to the ring, looking for fans who might want a high five. He only finds one, but when he reaches out, the fan pulls his own hand back and leaves Nate to swat at the air.
Richard Parker: I can’t wait for Farthington to wipe the floor with Nate Colton.
Nick Stuart: I don’t think anyone in PRIME will ever wipe the floor with Nate Colton.
Blushing from embarrassment, he climbs the steps and ducks through the ropes. He heads directly to his corner and removes his shirt, showing off his gear–white trunks that reach his upper thigh with a blue stripe down the side, white boots with blue trim, white MMA gloves, and blue elbow and knee pads. He tosses the shirt into the corner and waits there for the referee’s instructions.
Richard Parker: Even Barlow knows it! She’s giving him the the same shake down she gives to the worst of ‘em.
Nick Stuart: I think she’s just being a little more forceful Richard.
Those instructions are given with a little more force than is strictly necessary. The lights in the arena go dark, a single white spotlight shines on the center of the stage. Then for the second time tonight:
And drag me into place
And lock the fire escape
I’ll break your pretty face
Cecilworth Farthington steps out from the back, his chiseled frame casts a huge shadow down the aisle from the single white spotlight. Farthington looks up to the camera and smirks before making his way down the aisle.
Richard Parker: YEEEEEEESSSSSSS!
Nick Stuart: Everytime he walks down that ramp… every damn time.
Richard Parker: The greatest wrestler in the world Nick, the greatest wrestler in the entire god damn world is walking down the aisle right now. For all that Hoyt has blessed, can you shut the fuck up.
Vince Howard: Aaaaaand his opponent… Standing at 6’0” tall and weighing in at 187 lbs. hailing from Buckinghamshire, England… HE IS YOUR FIVE STAR CHAAAAAAAAAMPION! “THE FINANCIER” OF THE GLUE FACTORY CEEEEEEEEECILWORTH FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARTHINGTON!
Farthington slowly approaches the ring and walks up the ring steps. He wipes his feet on the ring apron before stepping through the ropes and Ashley Barlow is right there to give instructions to Farthington. The lights turn back on in the arena as Farthington removes the Fiver Star Championship from his waist and hands it gently to the referee before stepping back into his corner. Barlow holds the belt in the air before calling for the bell.
Richard Parker: One of the biggest prizes in all of combat sports. The PRIME Five Star Championship.
Nick Stuart: You’re not wrong there Richard.
Richard Parker: God it was so nice while you were quiet.
Nick Stuart: The feelings are mutual.
Farthington and Colton begin a slow dance around the ring, Farthington paces while Colton is down in a serious amateur wrestling stance. Colton shoots in for a single leg, but Farthington dances away and drives an elbow into the spine of the prone Colton clan member. Nate grimaces and spins around, Farthington catches him with a vicious european uppercut.
Richard Parker: His head ain’t in it Nick. When Nate Colton gets killed out here by the machine that is Cecilworth Farthington, all of you in the back have his blood on your hands.
Nick Stuart: Oh c’mon Richard!
Farthington lives up to the promise and rocks Colton again with a second uppercut that staggers him backwards into the corner. Colton reaches up to grab his jaw but Farthington peppers him with a forearm that smashes his hand against his face. “The Best Boy” takes a few steps back and comes roaring forward, he smashes a running elbow into Nate Colton’s sternum that drops Colton to his knees.
Richard Parker: This is done Nick. This is fucking over. I’ve seen Farthington snap off limbs after something like that.
Nick Stuart: Nate Colton is looking overwhelmed here.
No mercy from a grinning Farthington, he spins Colton around and smashes his head off of the middle turnbuckle once, twice, then a third time. Colton looks up dazed, but as Farthington goes for a fourth turnbuckle smash, Colton manages to get his hand in the way. He shoots a left elbow back and up into Farthington’s midsection that catches him by surprise. Colton gets to his feet, his face already beat red. The larger man fires off a right hand that staggers the champion backwards, then another, then another.
Nick Stuart: Nate Colton with a head of steam!
Farthington finally gets his wits and smashes Nate Colton in the stomach with a boot. Colton doubles over and Cecilworth grabs Colton in a front face lock and whips himself backwards, dragging Colton’s head down with him.
Richard Parker: WHAT A DDT!
Nick Stuart: Rapid change of fortune for Colton, Farthington cut the big man off with that boot to the midsection and drove his skull into the canvas for all of his trouble.
Richard Parker: He should have taken the turnbuckle shot.
Farthington sits up and smirks while rubbing his jaw. He looks over at Colton, face still planted into the canvas and gets to his feet. He walks back to the ropes and waits for Colton. His foot is ready, locked back, waiting for Colton to stir.
Nick Stuart: He’s gonna kick him.
Richard Parker: Yes Nick, in fact, he’s going to kick the fuck out of him.
Colton begins to press himself up to his knees, and Farthington explodes forward from the ropes. He pulls back his leg and swings forward but Nate Colton manages to roll out of the way. Farthington stumbles with the miss and Colton lunges for the ropes. He comes back across the ring and dives at Farthington, hitting him with a cross body that takes both men down. Farthington presses Colton off of him immediately and rolls to his feet, but Colton is already a step ahead of him and comes off the far ropes and levels Farthington with a big clothesline that sends both men flipping up and over the top rope and to the arena floor.
Richard Parker: NO!
Nick Stuart: Both men down to the floor on the outside. Ashley Barlow over to check on them.
Barlow jumps down from the ring and immediately checks on Farthington. She then turns towards Colton and checks on him. Satisfied both men are alright she slides back into the ring. Colton climbs to his feet, and looks over at the crumpled Farthington. He lets out a sigh, his chest heaving as he pulls Farthington up by the back of the head.
Farthington is wobbly, and Colton looks to capitalize. He grabs Farthington by the arm and looks for a suplex but Farthington manages to slip a knee into Colton’s midsection.
Colton leans over, and Farthington grabs the arm and spins, sending Colton crashing back first into the ring apron.
Nick Stuart: Ouch!
Colton grimaces in pain, and Farthington whips him the other way across and into the guard rail.
Richard Parker: Every movement Farthington has just causes pain!
Farthington grabs Colton’s head, spinning him around and trying to slam him head first into the guard rail.
Nick Stuart: Not that time!
Colton manages to jam his foot against the railing, and instead smashes Farthington’s head across the railing.
He slams it down a second time, and Farthington slumps down against the railing.
Richard Parker: C’mon! Someone stop this maniac Colton kid.
Nate looks back towards the ring and stomps his way over and into it. Sliding past Ashley Barlow. Barlow has some stern words for Colton, but Nate ignores her and heads for the far ropes at a breakneck pace. Barlow breaks her count in confusion.
Richard Parker: What’s this idiot doing?
Nick Stuart: Oh this is…
Nate Colton may never show you his actual hog, but he can actually jump. Evansville got hops, and Nate Colton is flying over the top rope at a now standing Farthington. For the second time tonight Farthington catches a flying 255 lb. Nate Colton with his chest. Farthington tumbles to the concrete as Colton jumps to his feet and pumps his arms in the air like a wild man. Colton bends down and grabs Farthington by the back of the head and drags him to his feet. He rolls Farthington into the center of the ring and heads for the ropes.
Richard Parker: Nate, get down from there.
Nick Stuart: Colton going up top!
Colton scales his way to the top turnbuckle, and slowly begins to stand up on the ropes. He wobbles for a second before catching himself, he positions his way up to standing, points one finger into the sky and leaps off with a flying elbow drop.
Richard Parker: HAH!
Nick Stuart: OH! Poor Colton!
Farthington rolls out of the way, and Nate begins kicking his feet trying to stop his momentum, but it’s too late and Nate Colton crashes to the canvas in a heap.
Richard Parker: He might be dead.
Nick Stuart: He’s not dead Richard.
Richard Parker: He’s not moving.
Cecilworth Farthington reaches up and pulls himself up using the middle rope, he wraps both of his arms behind the top rope and stands up straight. Farthington smirks at the predicament of Nate Colton and marches his way to the center of the ring. He spins Colton over, and smashes him with a boot across the mouth. Colton’s head rolls to the side and Farthington drives his foot into Colton’s neck.
Nick Stuart: Jesus.
Richard Parker: He might be a little upset.
Barlow comes over and immediately breaks the choke by fast counting her way to four while Farthington stands with his hands in the air. Clearly having no idea what she’s talking about. Farthington finally removes his boot and Barlow bends down to check on Nate who is holding his neck and kicking his feet. Farthington backs away to the far side of the ring. Colton manages to make his way up and sits. Just as Barlow is about to step away Farthington comes flying in with a penalty kick to Colton’s chest. Colton’s head careens backwards into the mat, Farthington walks back over and smashes a boot to Colton’s face, and then another.
Nick Stuart: Colton is in a real bad place here.
Richard Parker: Yeah, he’s in there with Cecilworth Farthington. That’s a real bad place to be.
Farthington bends down and drags Colton up to a seated position. He reaches down to wrap his arms around Nate Colton’s neck, but Nate comes back to life the moment an arm is near his neck. Colton immediately begins hand fighting with Farthington, trying to prevent the Financier from locking his arm into his elbow. Cecilworth comes downwards with an elbow to Colton’s collarbone. He pulls back for a second, but Colton manages to slip out of his clutches, he spins around and manages to sweep Farthington’s legs out from under him.
Nick Stuart: Nate Colton still has life in him!
The two come down to the canvas, Farthington on his back, and Colton already in half guard. Barlow drops to the canvas.
Richard Parker: NO!
Farthington repositions himself onto his side, keeping his left shoulder in the air. Colton reaches for the shoulder, but Farthington manages to maneuver away, Colton reaches out again, and Farthington’s hips snap up in an instant, suddenly the trapped leg is out and they have slid their way across Nate Colton’s midsection. Farthington rolls like an alligator whipping Colton face first into the mat. Colton shouts out in pain as Farthington wrenches an inverted arm bar.
Richard Parker: HE’S LIKE A COBRA!
Nick Stuart: Incredible grappling here from Farthington, Colton’s in trouble.
Colton struggles towards the ropes, but Farthington moves to a seated position and begins to yank on Colton’s arm. Colton lunges and manages to grab the bottom rope. Barlow comes over to break up the arm bar, but Farthington drops the arm, but keeps himself sitting on Nate Colton’s back. He grabs Nate by the back of the skull and slams his face into the canvas. He stands up and yanks Nate away from the ropes and back towards the middle of the ring. He collapses down onto Colton’s back and locks in The Tarp.
Richard Parker: Colton’s done!
Colton frantically tries to rip at Farthington’s hands, but Farthington slides his leg up over Nate’s worked over arm and pins it to Colton’s side. Nate rips and scratches at the arm locked inside of the elbow before he fades out.
DING DING DING
Ashley Barlow calls for the bell frantically as Farthington releases the hold. Vince Howard steps into the ring carrying the Five Star Championship. He hands it to Farthington and walks to the middle of the ring.
Vince Howard: And your winner by Referee Stoppage…and STILL FIVE STAR CHAMPION! CEEEEEEEEEEEEECILWORTH FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARTHINGTON!
Richard Parker: IT’S THE SHINIEST! DONT TELL FLAMBO I SAID IT!
Nick Stuart: I’ll make sure he knows. What a victory for Cecilworth Farthington, and Nate Colton almost had him. If he hadn’t stumbled on the top rope, maybe that elbow drop hits and Nate Colton is a two time Five Star Champion.
Richard Parker: Yeah right!
Farthington holds his championship into the air, his chest heaving. He looks down at Colton and nods as he steps out of the ring. Our scene fades to commercial as ‘Choke’ blares over the PA system.
COMMERCIAL: ULTRAVIOLENCE 2023
A BANDIT ENCOUNTER
We return from the thrilling 5-Star Title match to a close-up view of Matt Mills smiling for the camera.
Matt Mills: Ladies and gentlemen, with me at this time is the former 5-Star Champion, Coral Avalon.
The camera pans back to reveal an exhausted-looking Crownless King, who’s been in the building all day and looks like a man who would like to take a nap some time. Dressed casually with his arms crossed, Avalon offers a short nod to one of the senior interviewers of PRIME.
Mills looks around, confused.
Matt Mills: Rumors have been swirling that you’ve joined the eGG Bandits recently, but I can’t help but notice that Cancer Jiles is conspicuous by his absence.
Coral Avalon: Okay, I don’t know where this whole “Coral Avalon joined the eGG Bandits” business came from, but I can honestly say… I’m flattered that Cancer Jiles thinks I should join the eGG Bandits. Really. There’s at least some pedigree there, if you look hard enough. But I don’t want to be in the eGG Bandits. Thanks, but no thanks.
Mills lets Coral’s response drift in the air for a few seconds before he goes to his next topic.
Matt Mills: Mr. Avalon, it’s no secret that you’ve been out of action since ReVival 32.
Coral Avalon: Not exactly by choice, but yeah.
Matt Mills: Is there anything you can tell us about the injury you’re working through right now?
Coral Avalon: Yeah, that it sucks to deal with. “No cap”, as the kids would say. I’d been dealing with it for a while, but aggravated it towards the end of the match with Chandler. So… that’s why I’m in street clothes right now instead of, say, trying to get back the title I lost.
Matt Mills: Do you have a timetable on when you’ll be back in the ring?
Coral Avalon: Honestly, I was hoping to be back in action before UltraViolence, but it sounds like I have to wait that long to get myself cleared. So–
He stops, and completely breaks character as he throws up his head towards the ceiling in frustration. Why? Because his good buddy, his new friend, his “fellow Bandit”… Cancer Jiles wanders onto the set. The COOLYMPIAN regards Coral Avalon with a restrained nod, as though he’s afraid that he might accidentally headbutt that big forehead if it were any deeper. By contrast, he barely acknowledges Matt Mills as anything more than a glorified microphone stand.
Cancer Jiles: Hey. Who is this guy? Has he been vetted?
Coral Avalon: That’s Matt Mills. He works here. He interviews people.
Cancer Jiles: Oh. That explains it. We don’t usually mingle with the help.
Even if Matt has never come into contact with COOLYMPIAN blood, which he hasn’t, he knows better than to speak up.
Coral Avalon: Hey. Unfortunately, we didn’t find Cecilworth in your ice bath. Maybe he’ll be there after his match with Colton, though, you’d better hurry.
A mirthless chuckle comes from Jiles.
Cancer Jiles: Listen. I know you’re new, so we got time to work on the jokes. Also, just a friendly heads up, but we don’t really do the interviewer thing. No offense, uhhhh (guy), I’m sure you and Eddie Cross have a wonderful rapport.
The pride of COOLYMPUS can’t help but to snicker.
Coral Avalon: Why not?
Cancer Jiles: Uh, that’s an easy one. Everybody already knows who we are, Coral. We’re over. We don’t need some crumb, again no offense, introducing us, or asking us silly questions about our health and interests. That’s for… well, the guys you used to hang out with.
Coral looks over at Matt and shrugs.
Coral Avalon: How silly of me I must have forgotten.
Before anyone can continue, Bobby, the wonderful Bandit, Abe, the ghost Bandit, and Lunchbox Laser, the ghosting Bandit, all come careening into the shot. Bobby is staring at Matt Mills like Matt’s an alien. So is Lunchbox Laser.
Bobby Dean: Hey. Who is this guy?
Lunchbox Laser: I wasn’t told to vet him, I know that.
Cancer Jiles: Apparently he works here. He interviews people.
Bobby Dean: Oh, why are we talking to him then? Doesn’t the new guy know we’re already over?
Coral Avalon: Well, not everyone has a Cardboard Dan Ryan to hold a microphone for them.
Lunchbox Laser: You weren’t kidding about the forehead. I would love to throw a cement block at it to test its strength.
Coral stares at Lunchbox Laser as though he recognizes him, but doesn’t recognize him, at the same time. He opens his mouth to ask “have we met?”, only for Jiles to interrupt.
Cancer Jiles: I know, right? We’ll get the proper measurements when we get back to the ship. That reminds me. Coral, you don’t get seasick, do you?
Coral Avalon: I guess you missed it, since you think Matt’s just furniture and all. So, like I said before, I’m flattered that you’d ask, but I don’t want to be an eGG Bandit. No thanks. Best of luck though.
No more smiles.
No more laughs.
No more games.
Just the sizzle of a hot frying pan.
Oh, and Bobby passing out because those words Coral Avalon just spoke have never been said on LIVE television before. Well, not to an eGG Bandit at least. Luckily, Lunchbox is there to catch Bob. Unluckily, they both topple over because bad knees and blubber don’t mix. Even more unlucky than that, sadly, Abe’s ghost gets trapped underneath the dog pile.
Spoiler: He doesn’t make it.
Cancer Jiles: Okay, Coral. Let’s make this nice and easy. Like your mom. There’s a little show coming up called UltraViolence. You don’t want to be a Bandit, that’s fine. You beat me. There. ON NIGHT FUCKING TWO. Under the bright lights. Injured or not. Foreign object or not, and we’ll leave you alone. You walk free and clear of this, and you can go smell Nate’s farts for all I care.
Coral Avalon: And let me guess, if I lose–
Cancer Jiles: If you lose, Coral, you will never again have to worry about talking to the likes of Matt Mills. You won’t have to buy Hayes Hanlon wine coolers. You won’t have to sit through Jared turning Forever 21. You won’t have to train with Eddie Cross at Nate’s Famous Hotdog Eating School. You’ll get to do whatever it is that you do in your wildest of dreams. That’s what happens WHEN you lose, Coral. I know, I still expect you to try your hardest.
Coral Avalon: Well, when you put it that way…
Cancer Jiles: Don’t spoil all the fun. Give me your answer at the next ReVival. I’m sure we can figure out a way to bump into each other again. In the meantime, I suggest you put that big brain of yours to work. It’s a good deal, Coral. Win win for you. And remember, we want you because you’re one of us, not because you’re one of them.
Coral glances down at the ghostly dog pile before him. The look upon his face is like he doesn’t know if he should be insulted or ashamed. He does know however the wrong response here would probably result in something bad happening to him. Not that he fears the Eggsecutioner, but he’s not 100 percent.
No reason to rush things.
Coral Avalon: See you at the next ReVival.
He pauses, and then points down at the pile in front of them.
Coral Avalon: Are they… going to be okay under there?
No one answers.
Matt Mills: …Back to you, Nick and Richard.
We move towards the main event.
THE PINNACLE OF ALL NECKS
We return from backstage to Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.
Nick Stuart: And now…all that’s left…
Richard Parker: The Intense Title is on the line, as are a couple of all-time PRIME milestones in the form of a winning streak and a career win total.
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 Neck (LSU Tigers Anthem) [Explicit Audio] by Jay Da Wizard beginning to play. With a lashing strike of blue, words fill the screen.
FLAMBERGE, THE PRIME INTENSE CHAMPION
THE PINNACLE OF ALL NECKS
Descending, a lone spotlight shines upon a table of velvet. Stood up for prominence is the PRIME Intense Championship belt, (very very very) 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 horrible lyrics about tiger dick, the still shots. Subtle movements slowly focusing upon the enlarged wrestler portraits cropped between chin and collarbone as they appear for a few moments, their achievement marked in text in convenient spaces.
The inaugural neck after the switch flipped inside FLAMBERGE’s mind. The bridge between the Glue Man Group and the Neck Collector, cemented at ReVival 17. His neck stands an enigma, burdened to support an egregiously sized forehead, but what he has in forehead he doubles that in heart. One neck for the mantle. We don’t see his, or anyone’s eyes, but we can assume based on the angle of this neck that they are steely.
A Goat Bastard with a tremendous beard and smell. He beat FLAMBERGE in the before-times and that was not a welcome event. It was non-title, anyway. An anti-hero, a Dopesmoker. Some say the loss of his neck started the ball rolling down the hill that eventually led to his departure from PRIME…for now. Oh, and FLAMBERGE won the 5 Star as well, which is almost as a neck.
Let’s skip over the BS where Brandon Youngblood had the audacity to hold onto FLAMBERGE’s waist which prevented him from breaking up a pin and cost him the 5 Star he had just won and instead focus on the grizzly legend of a neck on screen because wow. That’s a legendary neck right there, come on.
In the before-times before he began properly dedicating his life to Neck Collection, FLAMBERGE had already claimed the neck of this man’s partner, Darin Zion. The Love Convoy couldn’t leave well enough alone, and for that, the second neck was collected from the trio. Cleansing it of all of Vickie Hall’s saliva proved a difficult task.
The man loves masks and the man loves Aztecs, but more egregiously, the man held his own title belt in a hallway once, which was enough spark to start a months-long fire culminating in the main event of ReVival 25. It was here that some of the lizard speculation began, which is very weird and you are very weird for perpetuating it. Anyway, he’s been thrown bodily from the top of the mountain.
THE ANGLUE GLUECHADOR
The obvious conclusion to make when seeing this booking is that someone from the Love Convoy must have peed in the Cheerios of someone very important within PRIME. Two out of three necks are nice, but the real prize is the full set. FLAMBO likes real prizes, and so he had to collect.
Yo, this dude handsome AF. I know you can only see his neck but CHRIST that’s the sexiest neck we’ve seen so far, are you kidding me?? AND he’s a former Universal Champion. GOD the Frenchman wanted this one. Glistening. Look at it.
Possible contact was made with a race of frogliens that may either be venomous or felt. While the neck was in fact collected, tremendous loss was felt as the 3rd or 4th coolest vehicle in the ReVival era, the FLAMBOrghini, was not amphibious. We’re concerned she’s going to murder someone for real now, but that may just be a video game. As a bonus for collecting this hazardous of a neck, Le Protagoniste was awarded the Intense Title as well.
Familiar, but different. A neck that was collected in a different form at ReVival 8 gets collected again at ReVival 31. It also tied the record for the longest singles win streak in the history of PRIME and temporarily (rightfully) pushed FLAMBERGE’s ranking to #1. The Intense Title has become a nest of eggs that must be polished and protected at all times. There was a car funeral. Everything is perfectly fine. No neck holds a higher value among collectors than the Frenchman, now.
C. MORTGOMERY BYRNES
With the final image of thirsty necks fading away and the song having been full of college marching band and weirdly aggressive lyrics about college football mascots, a final shot of the Intense Championship upon its velvet table is shown. And then, we cut to black.
A rich history of neckness.
Will the Neck Collector collect his zaddyest neck yet?
INTENSE TITLE MATCH: FLAMBERGE (C) VS. CHANDLER TSONDA
After that… intro… we probably should just call it a night, right?
Vince Howard: The following match is one fall… and is for the INTENSE CHAMPIONSHIP!
Nick Stuart: A doozy of a match coming up here as FLAMBERGE, who hasn’t lost since UltraViolence 2022, will defend his Intense Championship against the PRIME Hall of Famer, Chandler Tsonda.
Richard Parker: I… am still shocked by what we saw. All the necks.
Nick Stuart: The warpath that FLAMBERGE has been on over the past year has been impressive as ten victims have fallen to him in that time and he is looking to add an eleventh to his mantle tonight.
Richard Parker: Why… so many… necks?
Vince Howard: Introducing first, the challenger…
“I said ‘kiss me, you’re beautiful’
These are truly the last days'”
The weathered voice from the beginning of Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s “Dead Flag Blues” fades into the short acoustic section that begins Coheed & Cambria’s “Welcome Home.” After twelve seconds, the guitars thunder in and start to kick ass, as gold and green pyro goes off in perfect timing with the power riffs.
As the PRIME*View displays the words “Model Citizen” in white over a black background, Tsonda swaggers out from behind the curtain. He soaks up the fan’s reaction at the top of the ramp, smirk painted across his face. And amidst the haze of pyro, smoke, and green & gold lights, he sprints to the ring, slides in under the bottom rope, and finally acknowledges his opponent. Tsonda bounces on his toes, mouthing something that’s inaudible to anyone but him.
Vince Howard: Weighing in at a 187 pounds and standing at five feet and eleven inches tall, he hails from San Diego, California by way of Hanoi, Vietnam… CHANDLER! TSOOOOOOOOOOOONDA!
Nick Stuart: Tsonda has got his work cut out for him tonight. Since returning at Culture Shock, he hasn’t quite had a match as big as this.
Richard Parker: He’s going to want the gold here tonight to add to his resume, maybe even get himself inducted into the Hall of Fame for a second time.
Nick Stuart: …is that something he can do?
Richard Parker: I’m sure he’s angling it with Lindsay Troy right now.
Vince Howard: And his opponent…
“Oh La La” hits into high gear as FLAMBERGE walks with glorious purpose towards the ring, Intense Championship belt affixed around his waist.
Vince Howard: And his opponent, he is the reigning and defending PRIME Intense Champion, weighing in at 206 pounds and hailing from Strasbourg, France, representing the Glueminati, FLAMMMMMMMMMMMMBERGEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!
Nick Stuart: Hate him all you want, but the man has been one of the most impressive wrestlers of the past year in a sea of impressive wrestlers.
Richard Parker: Yes, Nick, but necks.
Nick Stuart: You have a neck. I have a neck.
Richard Parker: Yes, but for how long?!
Elvis Nixon takes the Intense Championship from FLAMBERGE and holds it high for everyone to see before handing it to the timekeeper. He issues his final set of instructions to both FLAMBERGE and Chandler Tsonda before signaling for the start of the match.
FLAMBERGE and Tsonda meet in the center of the ring with FLAMBERGE speaking in French to the PRIME Hall of Famer. Chandler doesn’t seem too entertained by the words coming out of the Intense Champion’s face as the brash star inches closer and closer to Tsonda until their noses are mere inches away from each other. FLAMBERGE keeps chirping and Chandler uncocks a slap across the Intense Champion’s face that echoes throughout the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.
Nick Stuart: Clearly Tsonda didn’t take too kindly to whatever FLAMBERGE was saying.
Richard Parker: …do you know what FLAMBERGE was saying?
Nick Stuart: I do not.
Richard Parker: Do you think Tsonda knows what FLAMBERGE was saying?
Nick Stuart: I don’t think Tsonda cares.
Richard Parker: Good point.
FLAMBERGE’s head remains cocked to the side for a moment as he checks to make sure he has all of his TEEF left inside of his head. He rubs the spot where Tsonda’s palm met his face before he turns back and connects with a double leg takedown on Tsonda before slamming forearm after forearm into the beautiful face of Tsonda. Chandler quickly covers up, having expected this out of the French superstar. Tsonda manages to find an opening in FLAMBERGE’s flurry and slips his arms around the Intense Champion’s and connects with a side headbutt that forces FLAMBERGE off of him.
Nick Stuart: And Tsonda realizing he’s going to have to get physical and nasty with FLAMBERGE in order to have a chance in this match.
Richard Parker: FLAMBERGE is this weird mix of grace and intensity that you never quite know what version of him you’re going to get.
Nick Stuart: Except for the necks, Rich.
Richard Parker: Why did you have to remind me?
Tsonda wastes no time as he mounts FLAMBERGE and manages to fire off a series of elbow strikes to his face before FLAMBERGE manages to plant his feet into the chest of the PRIME Hall of Hamer and kicks him away. Tsonda crashes to the mat, but is quick to his feet as he meets FLAMBERGE with a forearm strike that stops FLAMBERGE dead in his tracks and follows it up with a knee to the midsection before putting him into a gut-wrench position before flipping him back onto his knee, stomach first. FLAMBERGE rolls around in pain as Tsonda sizes him up and drops a knee across his ribcage.
Nick Stuart: Tsonda fast and furious out of the gates to start this match and that has definitely put FLAMBERGE on his back foot.
Richard Parker: Intense Championship rules means anything goes basically. Needless to say, FLAMBERGE is going to use that to his advantage in this match.
Nick Stuart: I would think so…
Richard Parker: Do you think Tsonda remembers the rules?
Nick Stuart: I think he does…
The Intense Champion rolls out under the bottom rope, not thrilled by how this match has gone thus far. Tsonda watches as he circles the ring before stepping around Elvis Nixon and stepping to the outside. Chandler manages to block a fist from FLAMBERGE and unloads with one of his own. The shot stuns FLAMBERGE for a moment before he tackles Tsonda into the barricade, driving the air out of the former Universal Champion. FLAMBERGE gets to a vertical base and plants his boot into the chest of Tsonda, repeatedly. Each stomp is stiffer than the last until Tsonda is lying back first on the ringside mat. FLAMBERGE then uses the barricade to hoist himself up before he drops a knee across the sternum of his opponent.
Nick Stuart: Such brutality from FLAMBERGE–
Richard Parker: It’s what we’ve come to expect out of him over the past year though.
Nick Stuart: True. Unbeaten during that time, if he wins here tonight, he could snap the longest unbeaten streak currently held by–
Richard Parker: No, no. We don’t say his name around here.
FLAMBERGE reaches down and pulls Tsonda up to his feet before bashing his face into the ringside barricade. Chandler stumbles away, trying to wipe the cobwebs out of his eyes, but FLAMBERGE remains on him, grabbing the back of his head and attempting to slam it into the ring apron. Chandler though manages to block it before drilling his elbow into the ribcage of the Intense Champion. FLAMBERGE turns away, but as he does so it gives Tsonda the opening as he grabs the back of FLAMBERGE’s head and bounces it off the steel post, sending the champion crashing to the floor. Tsonda winds up and kicks FLAMBERGE square in the rib cage before standing over him.
Richard Parker: Tsonda is giving it as much as he gets it, which is impressive.
Nick Stuart: Impressive indeed considering Tsonda is a more graceful wrestler, not the in-your-face style that we’ve seen from FLAMBERGE since bursting onto the scene here in PRIME.
Richard Parker: I take it Tsonda has done some homework.
Nick Stuart: Tsonda is a veteran of the ring and has had more matches in his career than FLAMBERGE could dream of.
As Tsonda reaches down to pull FLAMBERGE off of the mat, FLAMBERGE pulls him down to him before rolling him onto his back and putting him into a rear naked chokehold. Tsonda doesn’t panic though. His face grimaces as he calmly puts his hand under the arm of FLAMBERGE and begins to pry it off of him. FLAMBERGE retaliates with a series of forearm strikes to the abdomen of the former Universal Champion. Tsonda rolls off of FLAMBERGE, coughing as FLAMBERGE pulls himself up to his feet and snaps his boot across the back of Tsonda’s head.
Richard Parker: Blood and guts on aisle one…
Nick Stuart: Not that bad yet, but you can tell that Tsonda has been studying FLAMBERGE and he didn’t panic when that rear naked chokehold came from him. He knew exactly what to do.
Richard Parker: So did FLAMBERGE as he used Tsonda’s focus elsewhere to attack him in his abdomen, driving the air out of him.
NIck Stuart: Both men are cerebral combatants and are always playing a game of chess with each other.
FLAMBERGE yanks Tsonda off of the mat and hits him with a succession of palm strikes before connecting with a high angle hip toss that sends Tsonda bouncing off the mat. Tsonda lays on his stomach as FLAMBERGE walks up behind him and pulls his head up before slamming his forearm across his face. Tsonda collapses back onto the mat as FLAMBERGE drives his boot into the lower back of his opponent. As he rolls Tsonda onto his back, Tsonda drives the edge of a steel chair into his leg, dropping the Intense Champion to one knee.
Richard Parker: So, confirmed, Tsonda does know the rules here.
Nick Stuart: That he does as he pulls a steel chair out from under the ring and drives it into the knee of FLAMBERGE!
Richard Parker: Maybe that will be Tsonda’s thing. Knees.
Nick Stuart: No.
Tsonda rises to his feet with the steel chair in hand and goes to crack it across the back of FLAMBERGE, but the Intense Champion plants a fist into Tsonda’s midsection, forcing him to drop the chair. FLAMBERGE then connects with his second high-angle hip toss, but this time onto the steel chair, causing Tsonda to shoot up in pain as he feels the reverberations through his body. FLAMBERGE plants the end of his boot into the spine of the challenger before scooping him up and connecting with a bodyslam onto the steel chair.
Nick Stuart: And now, FLAMBERGE is using that chair to his advantage.
Richard Parker: That’s always the tricky part when you introduce weapons into a match — it can come back and bite you.
Nick Stuart: Did you say bite you? Like a vampire? You know, necks.
Richard Parker: I hate you.
FLAMBERGE moves to the ring apron and digs underneath the ring before pulling out another steel chair. He grabs it by the leg and walks back to Tsonda before cracking the steel chair across his ribcage. Tsonda rolls around in pain, the cold steel meeting his skin from both ends. FLAMBERGE reaches down and centers Tsonda on the chair again before cracking the steel chair across his rib cage and torso again, to great effect as Tsonda rolls away from FLAMBERGE. The Intense Champion stalks him though before driving the edge of the steel chair into his ribcage.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE taking it right to Tsonda, looking to bruise and batter him on his way to retaining the Intense Championship.
Richard Parker: It’s like he’s playing with his food.
Nick Stuart: What do you think that FLAMBERGE likes to eat?
Richard Parker: Go. Away.
Tsonda, in a world of pain, grabs the ringside barricade to help him back up to his feet. FLAMBERGE just watches on as Tsonda grimaces in pain. As Tsonda reaches a vertical base, FLAMBERGE cracks the chair across his back.
Chandler arches his back in pain as he tries to stumble away from FLAMBERGE, but the Intense Champion cracks the chair across his back once again. Tsonda shakes his head, trying to create some distance, but to no avail as FLAMBERGE cracks the chair across his back once again.
Tsonda freezes where he’s at, the pain too much. FLAMBERGE cocks the chair again as he begins to swing it towards Chandler, the challenger fires off a superkick that sends the chair flying back into the face of these Intense Champion!
Nick Stuart: What a superkick from Tsonda, giving him new life in this match.
Richard Parker: I would call that desperation from Tsonda.
Nick Stuart: He’s a wily veteran, he knew exactly what he was doing.
Richard Parker: I’m not even sure that Tsonda knows what city he is in right now.
Both men are slow to their feet, with Tsonda managing to be the first one up to his feet. He grabs a slow-to-rise FLAMBERGE and connects with a forearm strike across the jaw that is teeth-rattling. Tsonda then grabs FLAMBERGE by the back of the skull and slams him face first into the ringside apron before spinning him around and connecting with a knife-edge chop. With FLAMBERGE leaning against the edge of the ring, Tsonda unloads with a spinning back elbow that drops FLAMBERGE to his knees.
Richard Parker: This is a side of Tsonda we haven’t seen at least since his comeback and you’d be hard pressed to find a match where he laid out his brutality as much as he is here tonight.
Nick Stuart: You can tell he knows what’s at stake here tonight. He doesn’t want some brash kid to take their one victory over Chandler Tsonda, PRIME Hall of Famer, and make his bones off of it.
Richard Parker: …bones? Did you say bones on purpose?
Nick Stuart: Hip bones. Neck bones. Whatever floats your boat.
Tsonda reaches down to grab FLAMBERGE and gets an elbow to his midsection for his troubles. FLAMBERGE then rushes at the stunned Tsonda only for Chandler to lift him into the air and drop him throat first across the ringside barricade. While FLAMBERGE grabs his throat in pain, Chandler reaches up towards FLAMBERGE, wraps his arm around his neck, and drives him to the ground with a knee to the back that leaves FLAMBERGE in agony.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE is starting to find himself in a ditch that he may not be able to climb out of.
Richard Parker: FLAMBERGE knows all about ditches, he’s Phil Atken’s protege. Atken has taught him all he needs to know about ditches. FLAMBERGE is the ditch expert.
Nick Stuart: That’s a weird thing to be an expert of, but I guess it’s better than being a neck expert.
Richard Parker: …damn you.
Tsonda gets back up to his feet, his body feeling the impact of this match, and he reaches down and pulls FLAMBERGE up to his feet before rolling him back into the ring. Elvis Nixon moves out of the way as Tsonda springboards into the ring and connects with a leg drop across the throat of the Intense Champion. FLAMBERGE rolls around in the ring, pain searing him, as Tsonda hooks his leg and goes for the pin!
Nick Stuart: And Tsonda nearly pulls off the victory there, snapping FLAMBERGE’s streak and walking out of here with the Intense Championship.
Richard Parker: I’m not saying that Tsonda winning would be an upset, but it would definitely be something that makes people look on in surprise, that’s for sure.
Nick Stuart: That says more about how dominant FLAMBERGE has been over the past year than anything about Tsonda, who has been nothing short of impressive since his return.
Richard Parker: It’s been interesting to see the old school versus the new school and this is just another example of it.
Tsonda slowly makes his way to his feet and drags FLAMBERGE up with him before whipping him into the corner and connecting with a running clothesline. Tsonda then grabs FLAMBERGE’s wrist and whips him across the ring before attempting another running clothesline. FLAMBERGE though connects with an elbow to the jaw of the former Universal Champion.
Tsonda stumbles away, in a pain, while FLAMBERGE hops onto the second turnbuckle. As Tsonda turns around, FLAMBERGE launches himself with a flying clothesline only for Tsonda to move out of the way. FLAMBERGE hits the canvas and as he bounces back up, Tsonda spins him around and connects with a stalling lift implant DDT. Tsonda then goes for the cover!
Nick Stuart: And another NEAR fall there for Tsonda after hitting the Golgotha Drop on FLAMBERGE!
Richard Parker: Not going to lie, the people here in Cleveland definitely thought it was over. I haven’t seen them get that excited since they won the NBA Championship like a million years ago.
Nick Stuart: Are you trying to get locked in someone’s basement around here?
Richard Parker: Depends on the basement.
Nick Stuart: …gross.
Tsonda makes his way to his feet and watches as FLAMBERGE, clearly not sure where he’s at, stumbles to his feet. Tsonda connects with a forearm strike that FLAMBERGE is unable to defend against. He connects with a second one that drops FLAMBERGE to one knee. Tsonda urges FLAMBERGE back to his feet and FLAMBERGE obliges. Tsonda goes for another forearm strike, but FLAMBERGE dodges out of the way before grabbing Chandler’s wrist and connecting with a hammerlock suplex!
Richard Parker: And FLAMBERGE figures out that he needs to put some offense into this match in order to win.
Nick Stuart: I think he knew that, but Tsonda has been taking it to him. That reversal came at the right time for FLAMBERGE, who needs to stall the momentum of the Hall of Famer.
Richard Parker: If Tsonda is able to close the door quickly enough on FLAMBERGE though, that might be it for the Intense Champion.
Nick Stuart: Oh, you know the Glue Man Group are around somewhere to make sure that doesn’t happen.
FLAMBERGE moves to the outside and reaches under the ring apron before producing a kendo stick. He slides in under the bottom rope and as Tsonda rises to his feet, he cracks it across his abdomen.
Tsonda groans in pain as he doubles over from the shot, which gives FLAMBERGE the opening to crack the kendo stick across Tsonda’s back. Repeatedly. Until blood begins to trickle out of Tsonda’s back and the former Universal Champion is lying flat on the mat. FLAMBERGE then reaches down and wraps the kendo stick around the throat of Tsonda and yanks back.
Nick Stuart: Is that a submission move?
Richard Parker: Sure, why not?
Nick Stuart: Well, FLAMBERGE attacking the throat and neck of the Hall of Famer.
Richard Parker: Could you not?!
FLAMBERGE then lifts Tsonda off of the mat and pushes him into the corner before he unloads on him with another kendo shot to the abdomen, causing the stick to splinter. Tsonda stumbles out of the ring, where FLAMBERGE connects with a gutwrench suplex. As Tsonda sits up, pain wracking his body, FLAMBERGE bounces off the ropes and connects with a running knee to the back of Tsonda’s skull, causing the challenger to slump over from the shot.
FLAMBERGE immediately goes for the cover.
Nick Stuart: And I thought that was it for a moment!
Richard Parker: Yeah, well when someone cracks the back of someone’s skull like that, it normally is. Tsonda just happens to be a freak of nature that refuses to stay down until someone puts him down for good.
Nick Stuart: …is that an offer?
Richard Parker: Hell no. I need to learn his moisturizer routine though. Need to look that young.
Nick Stuart: I think it’s a bit late for you.
Richard Parker: …ass.
FLAMBERGE rises to his feet and brings Tsonda along with him. He then whips him into the ropes and connects with a spinebuster that lays Tsonda flat out. FLAMBERGE then bounces back to his feet and flies off the ropes before connecting with an elbow across Tsonda’s sternum. The Hall of Famer rolls over onto his stomach as FLAMBERGE mounts him and wraps him into a rear naked choke for the second time. Tsonda immediately scrambles to the ropes until he manages to slip through the bottom rope, forcing FLAMBERGE to break the hold.
Nick Stuart: Now FLAMBERGE is firmly in the driver’s seat here. Tsonda knew he had to get out of the ring in a hurry or he would be the eleventh person added to the list.
Richard Parker: Tsonda, as much punishment as he has taken, is still aware of where he’s at and that’s rather impressive.
Nick Stuart: Yes, especially considering you couldn’t figure out how to get to the arena with two GPS devices telling you where to go.
Richard Parker: Look, it’s hard to figure your way out around here. It all looks gray and drab and depressing!
FLAMBERGE makes his way to the ring apron and watches as Tsonda makes his way to his feet, slowly. As he turns towards FLAMBERGE, Tsonda is met with a flying knee off the ring apron that sends both men crashing to the floor.
FLAMBERGE is quick to his feet, snapping his boot across the back of Tsonda’s skull. Chandler tries to get away from the Intense Champion, but FLAMBERGE, sensing blood in the water, stalks him before snapping his boot across the back of Tsonda’s skull once again. FLAMBERGE then yanks him off of the mat and whips him into the ringside barricade, the documented back injuries of Tsonda not worth a single damn to FLAMBERGE.
Richard Parker: FLAMBERGE ratcheting up the intensity here and it seems like Tsonda isn’t able to keep up with it.
Nick Stuart: He’s definitely taking it to the Hall of Famer and it makes you wonder how much Tsonda has left in the tank.
Richard Parker: Zero, Nick. Zero.
Nick Stuart: Oh, I wouldn’t be so sure about that.
The Intense Champion walks over to Tsonda and cracks a knife-edge chop across the chest of the challenger. Tsonda grimaces in pain. FLAMBERGE plants his boot repeatedly into the midsection of Tsonda until Chandler is basically hanging onto the metal barricade. FLAMBERGE takes a few steps back and rushes at Tsonda, looking for a clothesline, but Chandler manages to dip his shoulder and send FLAMBERGE over the barricade and onto the unforgiving concrete. As FLAMBERGE gets to his feet, dazed by the sudden reversal, he turns around and is helpless in stopping Tsonda as he springboards off the ringside barricade and connects with a flying head-scissors that sends FLAMBERGE flying into a seat of just-vacated chairs.
Nick Stuart: And right on time…
Richard Parker: Had to give Tsonda some ammunition, motivation.
Nick Stuart: He can’t even hear you.
Richard Parker: Yeah, but we’ve got a telepathic link after all of these years.
Nick Stuart: Poor Chandler…
As FLAMBERGE stumbles to his feet, he’s met with a dropkick that sends him into a seated position on one of the chairs. Tsonda bounces back to his feet and runs full speed at the Intense Champion, slamming both knees into his chest and sending them both flying and scattering the row of chairs behind them as fans have quickly moved out of the way. Tsonda is quick to his feet and grabs a stumbling FLAMBERGE by the back of the skull and drags him further into the crowd before snapping FLAMBERGE’s face into the side of a lighting structure.
Nick Stuart: Fans have cleared out of the way, security helping give these competitors the space they need without fear of a lawsuit coming PRIME’s way.
Richard Parker: I imagine Lindsay Troy would just laugh at it and throw it in the trash anyways.
Nick Stuart: Is that what you do with all of those paternity suits?
Richard Parker: Look, Maury hasn’t told me I’m the father so I don’t know what they’re talking about!
Tsonda tries to drag FLAMBERGE over to a nearby table, but FLAMBERGE drives his elbow into the midsection of the Hall of Famer. He takes the opening and wraps his forearm under the chin of the challenger and puts him into a sleeper hold. Tsonda immediately drives his boots into the ground and launches himself backwards, slamming the lower back of FLAMBERGE into the edge of the nearby table. Tsonda begins to cough as he turns around while FLAMBERGE grimaces and connects with a kick to the midsection.
Richard Parker: FLAMBERGE going to end up with back problems like Tsonda if he takes too many more shots to the lower back.
Nick Stuart: Needless to say, the intensity in this match is ratcheting up quite quickly and there’s no telling the lengths either of these two men will go to in order to pull out the victory here tonight.
Richard Parker: I mean, we know FLAMBERGE will go to the end of the world.
Nick Stuart: Tsonda has been known to push himself past his comfort zone, so there’s no telling what could still happen between these two.
Chandler grabs FLAMBERGE by the back of the head and slams him face first into the wooden table, which is covered in audio equipment. The staff scatter away from the scene and then Tsodna slams FLAMBERGE’s face into the table once again. He releases his hold on FLAMBERGE, who remains leaning on the table, his face in the position where it was just smashed at. Tsonda turns around and grabs a steel chair, folds it and cocks it back as he looks to slam the chair into the back of the Intense Champion’s skull. As he unloads though, FLAMBERGE manages to roll out of the way.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE just moved out of the way at the last possible second!
Richard Parker: That would’ve been the end of FLAMBERGE, I’m telling you right now.
Nick Stuart: He may have been next to Phil Atken in a wheelchair.
Richard Parker: Wheelchair?! He would have been a vegetable!
FLAMBERGE stumbles to his feet, trying to get away from Tsonda, but Chandler chases after him, driving his elbow between his shoulder blades. As the Intense Champion is stopped in his tracks, Tsonda slips to the side of FLAMBERGE and wraps his arms around his waist in the process. He then lifts FLAMBERGE into the air and goes for a side suplex into the chairs near him only for FLAMBERGE to land on his feet on a chair. Tsonda turns around and is met with a boot to the face. As Tsonda stumbles away, clutching at his face, FLAMBERGE launches himself off the chair and connects with a bulldog onto the unforgiving concrete.
Nick Stuart: What amazing athleticism from FLAMBERGE there!
Richard Parker: I taught him that move.
Nick Stuart: You taught him how to land on his feet on top of a chair instead of going through them?
Richard Parker: Yeah! Is that so hard to believe?
Nick Stuart: For a man who lacks all grace, definitely. I’ve seen you fall out of your chair numerous times at the Asian Buffet!
Richard Parker: That’s not the same thing!
FLAMBERGE gets to his knees, flips Tsonda over, and blasts him in the face with a forearm shot. He then rises to his feet and drags Tsonda by the arm back towards the ringside barricade. FLAMBERGE then drags Tsonda up to his feet only for Chandler to blast him with a palm strike to the face. FLAMBERGE retaliates with a clothesline that sends Tsonda over the barricade and to the floor.
Nick Stuart: Both competitors trading blows back and forth with one another here!
Richard Parker: Neither man wants to go home the loser here tonight and you can see the competition oozing out of them.
Nick Stuart: Let’s not talk about oozing.
Richard Parker: Then stop talking to me about necks!
As Tsonda stumbles back up to his feet, FLAMBERGE connects with an arm wrench before throwing him to the floor. The Intense Champion immediately goes for an armbar on the outside of the ring, but Tsonda manages to clasp his hands together before FLAMBERGE can wrench back. The Intense Champion kicks furiously at the face of Tsonda, but Chandler manages to hold on and rotates it so he is standing over FLAMBERGE before he lifts him off the mat and then throws him into the side of the ring apron as hard as he can.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE is taking his lumps here tonight and if he’s going to want to retain his Intense Championship, he’s going to need to take a few less of them.
Richard Parker: Whomever wins, they will have earned it and will be having a lengthy stay at the hospital after this.
Nick Stuart: That very well might be the case here. You have to wonder how much more either of these men can take.
Richard Parker: Fans in Cleveland have been taking shit all of their lives, these two can handle a bit more.
Tsonda grabs the dazed Intense Champion and rolls him back into the ring. As FLAMBERGE gets back to his feet, Tsonda connects with a knife-edge chop that rings through the arena.
FLAMBERGE goes for a forearm strike, but Tsonda ducks underneath it and plants FLAMBERGE on the mat with a side suplex. FLAMBERGE grabs at the back of his head as Tsonda reaches down and goes to bring FLAMBERGE back up to his feet. As he does though, FLAMBERGE pulls him into a small package!
Nick Stuart: And FLAMBERGE almost stole that one!
Richard Parker: You could hear the air almost leave the arena after that!
Nick Stuart: All it takes is one moment and this match could be over for either competitor.
Richard Parker: I would hate to think of what FLAMBERGE we get if he loses here tonight.
Tsonda gets up to his feet, surprised by the near pinfall from FLAMBERGE. The Intense Champion gets back up to his feet in a hurry and connects with a forearm smash across the face of Tsonda, which sends Chandler stumbling into the corner. FLAMBERGE immediately drives his shoulder repeatedly into the abdomen of the Hall of Famer before connecting with a hip toss out of the corner. As Tsonda sits up, in agony, FLAMBERGE sneaks up behind him and goes for a north south choke, but Chandler manages to roll through it and lands on top of FLAMBERGE in a vertical base. He then lifts FLAMBERGE off of the mat before connecting with the Runway Vault!
Nick Stuart: OUT OF NOWHERE! THE RUNWAY VAULT!
Richard Parker: Oh snap, we’re about to witness history right now, everyone. Don’t turn off your TV set.
Nick Stuart: Do people even watch on a TV any longer?
Richard Parker: How would I know? I’m here with you every week!
Tsonda, sensing victory at hand as FLAMBERGE is laid out on the canvas, begins to climb to the top turnbuckle, looking for his patented high-arc moonsault. As he stands on the top turnbuckle, a hooded figure leaps over the ringside barricade and proceeds to almost push Tsonda off the top rope, but stops dead in his tracks as Tsonda hops off the top rope.
Nick Stuart: What in the hell?!
Richard Parker: Who is that who jumped over the barricade?!
Nick Stuart: Oh, I could tell you who it is!
Richard Parker: It looks like an oompa-loompa! Timothee Chalamet is attacking us! The French Revolution is upon us! FLAMBERGE and CHALAMET! HOW WILL WE EVER BE ABLE TO SURVIVE THIS?!
Tsonda looks at the masked man stands on the ring apron, mocking Tsonda, before he pulls back his hood to reveal the reigning Gamble Champion, Tony Gamble himself.
Tsonda rushes at him, but before he is able to do so, Chandler is spun around by the Intense Champion, who plants his boot into Tsonda’s midsection before connecting with an axe kick!
Nick Stuart: THAT RAT BASTARD!
Richard Parker: Um, Nick. I think Gamble is like connected. I wouldn’t say much more.
Nick Stuart: Tsonda had this one in the bag and Gamble interfered by distracting Tsonda, getting him off of the top turnbuckle, giving FLAMBERGE the opening that he needed.
Richard Parker: I mean, anything could still happen…
With Tsonda dazed on his knees, FLAMBERGE immediately locks in the Guillotine Choke.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE has locked in the Marie Antoinette!
Richard Parker: Okay, well then…
Nick Stuart: This is disgusting! Gamble costing Tsonda here like this.
Richard Parker: I mean, the same thing happened at the top of the show.
Nick Stuart: I don’t need your rationalization, Richard! Gamble started ALL of this.
As Tsonda reaches out, looking for some kind of release, Gamble yells at him, mocking him in the process.
“TAP TSONDY, TAP!”
Tsonda glares at Gamble as the oxygen is cut off from him. He tries to reach out again, but is starting to fade.
His eyes close as Elvis Nixon checks on him and immediately signals for the bell.
DING DING DING!
Vince Howard: Your winner… and STILL! INTENSE! CHAMPION! FLAMBERGE!
FLAMBERGE slowly releases his hold on Tsonda before making his way to his feet. He yanks the title away from Elvis Nixon and takes a quick look at Gamble before escaping under the bottom rope and begins to make his way up the ramp with his title in hand.
Nick Stuart: Absolutely disgusting! I can’t believe this is how the main event is going to end!
Richard Parker: Well, needless to say, FLAMBERGE will be heading into UltraViolence as the Intense Champion where he will face… someone.
Nick Stuart: I’m too angry to talk about that, Richard. I hope Tsonda gets his hands on Gamble next week!
Richard Parker: And a year-long winning streak is all but guaranteed for the French star, a remarkable feat for our #2 wrestler in the rankings!
Tsonda slowly opens his eyes and they lock with Gamble, who is waving at Tsonda, a huge smile on his face for having ruined the evening of Tsonda.
Nick Stuart: Just deplorable behavior!
Richard Parker: Alright then, this is weird for me, but for my partner Nick Stuart, I’m Richard Parker, thanking you for watching ReVival 34! We’ll be back in two weeks time for ReVival 35, live from the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit!
We cut from the image of Tsonda and Gamble, seething at one another to FLAMBERGE, who stands at the top of the ramp, victorious. He holds his title high over his head, having collected another neck for his collection.
Which neck is next?
Richard Parker: Damnit, no more necks! FADE TO BLACK!