DON’T TELL THE SPONSORS
Little Caesars Arena.
PURE MICHIGAN, BAYBEE.
We’re taken behind the Steel Door o’ Doom where the revolving door of endless bullshit has not yet begun turning.
Don’t worry, though; the night is young.
Lindsay Troy is checking her watch while reclining in her big, comfy executive’s chair, feet up on the desk, looking real relaxed. The Flynn Cup, all shiny and pretty, is next to her on the desk.
Suddenly, three big booming knocks are heard from across the room, and the Queen’s face lights up like a kid’s on Christmas morning.
Lindsay Troy: (smiling) Come in!!!
You know she’s happy because I used three exclamation points! THREE!!! I never use more than one!
The Steel Door o’ Doom swings open…
Henry Keyes: BESTIEEEEEEEEEE!
His voice is like a gravelly John O’Hurley. A staggeringly dapper man in a crushed pink velvet suit with a bright blue tie, salt-and-pepper abound, and a tastefully overstated black leather headpiece covering much of the left half of his head steps into The Queen of the Ring’s office. The Kraken is carrying a large cardboard Little Caesar’s pizza box in one hand and a manilla envelope in the other. Setting them both down, Keyes joyfully strides over to Miss Troy.
What follows is one of the most elaborate and complicated series of maneuvers, twists, and slaps you may ever find in a Secret Handshake. Some of these maneuvers surely have names in the Secret Handshake Community – names like The Hand Grenade or The Shortstack. It’s shocking how well these two are in sync with this handshake. They conclude with a hearty forearm-to-forearm press and a big bear hug from Keyes to Troy before Henry retrieves the pizza box.
Henry Keyes: I had to make a little Pizza Trojan Horse here so I could sneak in the good stuff. Jet’s forever, Little Caesar’s never!
Henry opens the Little Caesar’s box to reveal a second, only very slightly smaller box nestled inside from Jet’s Pizza.
Henry Keyes: Four corner turbo crust cheese, sausage, and peppers.
He reveals The Good Stuff. Damn it, now I want a pizza too.
Lindsay Troy: You’re the best, bb. Definitely worth getting in trouble with the Arena Owners and Sponsors. No extra pepperoni for you, though?
Henry Keyes: I’ve got a second Extra Pepperoni Trojan Horse lined up – I’m bringing it up to the suite to share with Kerry.
Lindsay Troy: Aw, cuties.
Keyes and Troy both chuckle.
Henry Keyes: You and I brought him into Vae Victis first. I’m proud of him, conquering new territory for Rome like this. We’ll have to have a triumph for him when he’s done.
Lindsay Troy: OK, I can only assume if you’re talking like this, you’ve already started. Share, please.
Keyes snorts and reaches into the inner pocket of his suit jacket, pulling out a leather and metal steampunk-style flask, which he hands to Troy. She takes a swig.
Henry Keyes: Oh, by the way, I bumped into some Herb out there who looked ready to piss himself at a moment’s notice. He shoved that into my arms and ran away.
He motions to the manilla envelope.
Henry Keyes: Apparently, it’s for you.
Lindsay Troy: I genuinely don’t understand what could have gone on in a kid’s mind to lead to that series of actions, Henry.
Henry Keyes: Maybe he saw you and I win that, and he assumed you or I might knock him out on sight for existing in our general vicinity!
Keyes points to the Flynn Cup, polished and shiny. The Co-Consuls of Vae Victis conquered Eminence in the finals of this year’s tournament and put the wider professional wrestling tag team scene on notice.
Lindsay takes the manilla envelope and begins to open it. She slowly pulls out the papers enclosed in the envelope.
Henry Keyes: The way he scampered off like a little kid made me wonder if we found a third Fuse brother – he kind of looked like an even scrawnier cOnOr to me.
Lindsay Troy: Ugh, two Fuse Bros are bad enough, I don’t want to imagine the possibility of there being more.
The Queen reads through the packet, stops on a specific page, and groans loudly. She smacks them against her thigh and tilts her head back.
Lindsay Troy: Whyyyyyyyyyy, this night started off so goooooood. UGGGHHHHHH.
Henry Keyes: Need me to hit anyone?
Lindsay doesn’t reply. Instead, she walks to the desk, shoves the papers in a drawer, then makes her way back to her bestie.
Lindsay Troy: This is a problem for Future Me. Present Me wants pizza and to change the subject.
Henry Keyes: Fine by me. By the way, how’s that French kid doing?
Lindsay Troy: Believe it or not, he’s the top ranked wrestler in PRIME right now.
Henry Keyes: Shut the front door!
The two of them heartily chomp on the amazing Detroit-style pizza stylings of Jet’s Pizza in an immersive experience that would be seriously ruined if it was that crappy Little Caesar’s $5 Hot N’ Ready malarkey.
Lindsay Troy: Well. Maybe we had something to do with that, I don’t know. You know he’s been wrestling down in New Orleans for BRAZEN.
Henry Keyes: Of course. I was thinking of giving him a call about taking another shot at the Tag Party tourney over there.
Lindsay Troy: You know Kaz is there too. He’s told me a few things.
Henry Keyes: I take it they’re-
Lindsay Troy: -feuding, blood feuding, yes, they are. And normally I’d let my kid handle his business on his own, but this feels…personal.
Keyes strokes his annoyingly groomed Van Dyke style goatee.
Henry Keyes: That settles it, I’m tagging with Flampanada. We’re winning it. And we’re gonna talk. He’s going to understand a few things by the end.
Keyes finishes his slice and dabs his face with a napkin.
Henry Keyes: I’ll leave you to it, busy night and all. Anything you want me to tell Kerry?
Lindsay Troy: Tell him I’ll stop by at some point, but I think you boys need some bonding time first.
Henry Keyes: Drinks and movies with Helen after the show, you and Wade in?
Lindsay Troy: Wouldn’t miss it.
Keyes salutes and bows, exiting Troy’s office.
DAYTONA DIAMONDS VS. LOGAN JAMES
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
Fireworks erupt through the rafters and across the stage, sending thunderous explosions echoing throughout the Little Caesar’s Arena. Sweeping shots from the crane cam catch thousands of screaming fans, holding up all manner of signs.
THIS SIGN COULD BE BANG! ALL DAY CHAMPION SOME DAY
LET’S TALK ABOUT NECKS, BABY LET’S TALK ABOUT YOU AND ME
DETROIT PIZZA IS BETTER THAN CHICAGO PIZZA
SHARPEND THE KNIFES
YOUNGBLOOD HAS NEVER HELD THE GAMBLE CHAMPIONSHIP, WHAT A CRUMB
30 DAYS HATH SEPTEMBER, EGG BANDITS WILL SOON HAVE A NEW MEMBER?
CECILWORTH FARTHINGTON WON THE CULTURE SHOCK BATTLE ROYAL
WHO’S NECK? I MEAN, NEXT.
Eventually, the camera finds its way to the commentary table, where we are greeted by
Nick Stuart: The pyrotechnics are burning hot… and the PRIMEates are burning even hotter! Which means it’s time for REVIVAL! Good evening, ladies and gentlemen! I’m Nick Stuart, and with me as always is Richard Parker! Tonight, we’re is coming to you live from the Little Caesars Arena in the heart of Detroit, Michigan!
Richard Parker: Pizza-Pizza, Nick! Hey, why is it that all the sports arenas these days keep making me hungry?
Nick Stuart: I’m not sure I know how to answer that, Richard. But I do know that we are only two weeks away from UltraViolence! All of the titles will be on the line! Scores will finally be settled! And who knows what else?! But for tonight, on this go-home show, we have a slate of tremendous match-ups in store for you fans!
Richard Parker: A little something to whet your appetites until the MAIN COURSE at the Pay Per View! …dangit, why am I so hungry?
Nick Stuart: With UltraViolence just around the corner, I think it’s safe to say that anything can happen this evening! So buckle in, ladies and gentlemen, as we get the action underway with our first match tonight!
“Always” by Saliva plays over the PA system as green lighting emits throughout the arena.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, the following contest is scheduled for one fall! Introducing first, weighing in at two-hundred and fifty pounds, and hailing from Livermore, Maine… please welcome, LOOOGAAAN JAAAMMMES!!
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. Logan waits in the corner for the fight to begin!
Nick Stuart: Logan James is looking pumped up and ready as he walks into this opening bout! He came up short two weeks ago to Kennade Star!
Richard Parker: Can’t hold it against the guy when she’s got a freak of nature backing her up.
Nick Stuart: In any case, tonight provides an opportunity for him to bounce back! But the questions remains, will ring rust be a factor in this match?
Richard Parker: Well he better hope he shakes it off soon, given his opponent tonight.
“Goin’ Out West” by Tom Waits comes in over the PA. Daytona Diamonds emerges out from the back in an eye-catching fitting rhinestone cowboy suit. From head to toe, he is covered in white and flashing stones. His expression is dour as he comes down the aisleway toward the ring, ignoring the fans and focusing on the ring.
Vince Howard: And the opponent, hailing from Carson City, Nevada, and weighing in at two-hundred and forty-five pounds… he is the RHINESTONE COWBOY… DAYTONAAAA DIAAAAMOOOOONDSSS!!
Once inside the ring, Daytona begins the process of discarding his outfit. Across the ring, Logan James stares back, patiently maintaining his poise and focus.
Nick Stuart: The rising star Daytona Diamonds earned a victory in his debut back at ReVival 33, against the likes of tenured Revival Era veterans like Bobby Dean and Ria Lockhart. But can he maintain that momentum here tonight?
Richard Parker: Never bet against a cowboy, Nick! Despite not being the professional wrestling pornstar that I hoped for, I can definitely say I see something in the King of the Last Rodeo!
Nick Stuart: You may be onto something, Rich. Then again, you seldom think straight when you’re hungry.
Richard Parker: It’s not so bad when I remind myself that the pizza this place makes tastes like cardboard.
Nick Stuart: The arena doesn’t actually make the… ugh, nevermind. Looks like both of our competitors are ready to go, and Jimmy Turnbull doesn’t waste any time giving the signal tour timekeeper!
Logan James paces confidently out of his corner, punching his palm and ready to tango. Across the ring, leaning in the corner and collecting himself, Daytona Diamonds rolls his neck and loosens up as he readies himself for action.
They meet in the center of the ring, and go into the lock-up.
Nick Stuart: Both men right into the collar-and-elbow! These are two very evenly matched opponents in terms of size and strength, so it’s anyone’s guess how this will turn out!
Richard Parker: Physical advantages are out the window. It all comes down to talent and wits.
Nick Stuart: Here comes James, pushing himself forward!
The Rhinestone Cowboy finds himself backpedaling before being abruptly driven into the corner by Logan’s sudden surge of strength. Referee Jimmy Turnbull quickly leans in to begin the count.
James makes the clean break and slowly backs away. Diamonds nods approvingly at the show of sportsmanship… before attempting to catch his unassuming opponent with a low kick!
Nick Stuart: Daytona with the KICK–but James catches the leg instead!
Richard Parker: It’s all in the reflexes.
Nick Stuart: Diamonds tries to catch him off guard, but James wasn’t buying it! Now Logan wrangles him into another collar-and-elbow… no, wait, Daytona slips behind! But James cuts him off at the pass with a snapmare to put him to the mat!
With Daytona seated before him, James wastes no time slapping on a headlock to keep him grounded. But the King of the Rodeo isn’t about to find himself lasso’d so easily. Determinedly, Diamonds pushes his legs off the canvas to find his footing again.
Logan wrenches the head harder, prompting Diamonds to back into the ropes and push him off.
Nick Stuart: Logan James in motion, and Daytona attempts to break free from that headlock… here’s LJ on the return, and Diamonds leapfrogs overhead!
Richard Parker: I think he’s got experience dodging raging bulls that way!
Nick Stuart: I stand corrected. Daytona bullfrogs over James, and now Logan comes back… running straight into the drop toe hold by Daytona Diamonds!
Richard Parker: Face, meet the canvas! Canvas, meet Face! …now kiss.
Nick Stuart: Diamonds trying to capitalize now, going for a crossface… but now, Logan James is fighting him off! He’s working his way back to his feet!
The crowd cheers with amazement as James forcibly pries Daytona’s arms apart. Before Diamonds can react, LJ scoops him up and over his shoulder.
Nick Stuart: BIG shoulder-breaker by Logan James! He goes for the pin!
And Daytona kicks out!
Coughing and choking as he clutches his shoulder, Diamonds scrambles to his feet and falls into a corner. He holds up a hand to plead off James, but LJ instead meets him with a series of heavy chops that leave his chest raw and lungs heaving.
Richard Parker: Oof! He’s getting straight-up GORED in there, Nick!
Nick Stuart: Logan James is looking strong in the ring right now! Surely, he’s finding his groove in there once again! Now he takes Daytona by the arm, and there’s the Irish Whip!
Daytona lands in the opposite corner with a THUD. His arms drape across the top set of ropes to keep himself from crumbling to the canvas. Across the ring, Logan spots his window of opportunity and charges right for it.
Nick Stuart: Diamonds still on his feet, but now here comes Logan James… clothesline connects… and the bulldog follows it up! James with another cover!
And again, Diamonds kicks out!
Richard Parker: Plenty of fight left in the Rhinestone Cowboy!
The crowd is getting behind James, and he takes a moment to bask in their support. Daytona attempts to crawl from the ring, but doesn’t get far before LJ catches him and pulls him back to his feet.
Almost effortlessly, James traps him into a front facelock and drapes the arm over his neck. His vertical suplex puts Diamonds onto his back with punishing impact. Earning another cheer from the crowd, LJ rolls through, pulling Daytona back to his feet before the King of the Rodeo even has the chance to catch his breath.
Nick Stuart: James with a DDT to follow up that amazing suplex! Diamonds is in a considerable world of hurt now!
Richard Parker: Okay, I’ll give LJ his flowers. He’s doing well, for someone who’s been out of the ring for a while.
Nick Stuart: Logan James looks to be in great form tonight, steadily shaking away his ring rust as he keeps control of this match! Now he has Daytona back up… and there’s the whip to the ropes!
Cracking off the ropes seems to snap Daytona back to life, as he narrowly dodges a clothesline attempt on the rebound and instead coils himself over LJ’s shoulders. Shifting his weight downard, James finds himself unwittingly rolling backwards onto his shoulders.
Nick Stuart: Diamonds with the crucifix pin reversal!
No! Logan James wasn’t about to let him steal the win that easily!
Richard Parker: Sometimes, in that ring, all it takes is one slip up. And three seconds ain’t exactly a lot of time to react when things suddenly aren’t going your way.
James storms to his feet in a flash before Diamonds can recover. He gets to Daytona while the cowboy is still on his knees, but out of desperation, Diamonds hooks his waistband and yanks him off balance.
And the official is standing right in his path.
Richard Parker: Look out, Jimmy!
LJ narrowly stops himself in time to avoid a collision. He and the official look to one another for a moment in shock, giving way to relief.
But as soon as James remembers his opponent and turns around, Diamonds is on his feet and waiting for him.
Nick Stuart: RIO BRAVO by Daytona Diamonds!
Richard Parker: Got ‘eem!
Still clutching his neck and shoulder, Daytona fights to his feet and runs himself into the ropes. James sits up in time to catch a lighting-fast basement dropkick that catches him in the mush.
Nick Stuart: BOOT SCOOTIN’ BOOGIE to follow it up! A solid one-two punch from Daytona Diamonds, shifting the momentum of this match in the blink of an eye off that distraction!
Richard Parker: See what I mean? All it takes is one mistake!
Nick Stuart: And that one mistake may spell doom for Logan James as Daytona Diamonds covers his chest and hooks the leg!
NO!! Logan wakes up in the nick of time and gets the shoulder up!
LJ rolls onto his side, groggy and out of breath. Diamonds uses the opportunity to slowly encircle him while stomping from every possible angle, savagely berating the returning veteran with every kick.
Logan’s hand comes up as he attempts to defend himself, but Daytona’s boot continues to pierce him like repeated bites from a rattlesnake. Eventually, Diamonds takes ahold of his legs and stretches him into a textbook cloverleaf!
Nick Stuart: Daytona Diamonds is taking every advantage of this opportunity to be in control of this match, punishing LJ with those vicious stomps, and now looking to bring him to his limit with this submission attempt!
Richard Parker: Is there anything more inherently Texan than a good ol’ fashioned cloverleaf, Nick?
Nick Stuart: I’m partial to the lariat myself, partner. Although for the cowboy in the ring, that word may have different meaning, as he wrangles the bull that is Logan James to the mat!
Richard Parker: Cleary, Nick, this ain’t his first rodeo! What better way is there to best a big, dumb beast other than to tie him down and let him wear himself out?
Nick Stuart: James is in a world of hurt right now! The pain is visible on his face! He’s desperately reaching out for the ropes, wanting that break! But can he work his way to them?
Richard Parker: Any man strong and desperate enough can crawl his way a few measly feet. Question is, is it worth the toll on his body? Even if he makes the break, will he be in any shape to continue this match?
Nick Stuart: Failure is not an option for Logan James, as he claws at the canvas and inches his way to the ring apron!
James has weight and determination on his side as feet become inches. Diamonds wrangles the hold in hard enough to slow his progress, but conserves what strength he has, knowing it’s a losing battle.
One desperate reach later, and Logan James’ hand grasps the bottom rope. Turnbull quickly calls for the break.
And Diamonds elects to make him earn his paycheck.
“One… two… three… four–”
Daytona breaks the cloverleaf at three-point-nine, earning him an admonishment from the official that he takes about as seriously as someone in public asking him to put out his cigarette and cool it on the foul language.
Pushing past the ref with a scoff, Dayton takes James by the head and begins pulling him up.
Nick Stuart: Diamonds is showing a bit of swagger now, as he plots his next move… but James has other plans, catching the Rhinestone Cowboy off guard with a forearm to the midsection! And another! And ANOTHER!
Richard Parker: He’s either got a lot of guts, or little brains!
Nick Stuart: I’m banking on the first one! James bursting to his feet now… scoops Daytona up before he can react, and CRUSHES HIM with a Powerslam!
The crowd pops uproariously off the impact. His strength spent, James drapes an arm across the chest.
Nick Stuart: Logan James could do it here!
THR–ALMOST! But Daytona Diamonds popped the shoulder!
Richard Parker: Thanks in part to such a weak pinning effort!
Nick Stuart: Can you blame the man, Rich? It took everything out of him to land that move!
James rolls over onto his back, completely exhausted. While both men lie recovering on the mat, the PRIMEates clap incrementally louder and faster in an effort to will the two of them back to their feet.
It’s James who moves first, gradually pushing himself up and looking over to where he left Diamonds. Daytona remains motionless, breathing heavily while his glazed eyes look into the lights.
Logan’s fists shake as he musters up the fortitude to keep on fighting. When he makes it to his feet, he goes for the nearest turnbuckle and begins the climb.
Nick Stuart: Logan James is feeling the energy in here tonight, and he knows that this is his moment to act!
Richard Parker: Cause if he doesn’t, then he’s screwed! He’s absolutely tanked right now!
Nick Stuart: Here comes James, off the top rope with the FLYING ELBOW…
…and Diamonds rolls to the side.
Nick Stuart: NOOOO!! LJ hits nothing but CANVAS!
Richard Parker: HAHAHAHA… BEAUTIFUL!! Daytona Diamonds sure can play possum like the best of them!
James staggers to his feet, clutching his arm. Then, from OUTTANOWHERE, he finds himself falling victim to a Diamond Cutter.
Nick Stuart: HOW THE WEST WAS WON!! That’s gotta be it! Daytona hooks the leg…
DING DING DING
Diamonds rolls off of LJ’s chest and continues clutching his shoulder from a seated position.
Vince Howard: Here is your winner, by pinfall… the RHINESTONE COWBOY… DAYTONAAAA DIIIIAAAAMOOOOONNDDSSSS!!!
Jimmy Turnbull raises his arm in victory. Daytona savors the moment for a few seconds before tearing it away and heading to the back. The ref turns his attention to assisting James.
Richard Parker: The gunslinger puts down another, Nick!
Nick Stuart: So it should seem! Logan James had a very impressive showing in this one, and there were times where he seemed to be in firm control of the flow of action. But Daytona Diamonds is hardly the kind of athlete that should be slept on.
Richard Parker: Hey, nobody said comebacks were easy! But let’s be real, James took some steps forward tonight in getting back to his old self.
Nick Stuart: I’ll agree with that. For tonight, Daytona comes away with another victory. Like you said before the start of the match, Rich, there may be something to this man. But right now, we have a lot of action left to get through! So without further adieu, let’s send things to the back!
Richard Parker: There’s just one problem, Nick.
Nick Stuart: Oh? What’s that?
Richard Parker: …I’m still hungry.
BRO, WE NEED MORE FRIENDS
We cut backstage where we could see a cardboard cut-out of Max Kael? however a picture of Jason “Crash” Jackson’face is crudely taped over Max’s face. It also had a “Hello, my name is Crash” sticker taped to the chest.
Max Kael?: Oh why fancy meeting YOOOOU here!
The man who had the same general energy as a hotbox fart wafted on screen wearing a coy, self-important grin.
Max Kael: Hi, we’ve never met before but I’m Max Kael?. It’s not a question.
He goes to shake his own cut-outs hand only to realize it has its arms crossed behind its back. After a few moments of consideration Max bumped elbows with the cut-out with Crash’s face.
Max Kael: You’re probably right, Covid is still a thing. Anyway I’ve been hoping to run into you before our match tonight. You know I instantly thought when I saw we were going to have a match? I said to myself you can always trust a guy who has the word rash in their name.
Kael scratched his chin nervously as he looked pensive for a moment. He turned to look at the camera, panicked suddenly by realizing it’s there, odd given this is a recorded wrestling segment. Quickly he looked back at the cut-out before rolling the dice.
Max Kael: Look, I’ll be honest. I was checking my history and apparently I used to have two best friends. Then one killed me and the other kicked me out of my jizz pod so he could have spare organs so I’m on the look-out for some new ones. So what do you say, Crash? Down to make a rash decision?
Max stares intently at the piece of inanimate cardboard cut-out. The face falls off, Crash’s facade tumbling to the ground. Kael’s shoulders slump slightly as he rubbed the back of his neck nervously.
Max Kael: Yeah, I suppose that makes sense. Gotta weigh your options given you’re the new kid in school, I get it, I get it. Don’t want to get saddled up to a soft ol’Lemon. Maybe that was why Mike killed me and Cecilworth let it happen. Maybe I was the bad friend? Gotta keep yourself safe. I get it.
He who was once dead but now alive again somehow let out a sign as his whole demeanor seemed to shift into that of a beat dog.
U.N. Couth: What the HELL is going on over here?!
The shrill voice of Max Kael?’s legal handler jolted Max out of his momentary depression. He snapped to life, reflexively lifting his hands ready to punch the diminutive old woman. Suddenly a very sturdy looking woman with bright red head bolts into frame, standing between Couth and Kael. His new bodyguard, Violent Purple. Max immediately relaxed his stance.
Max Kael: She startled me! Can’t you see I’m in the middle of my therapy!?
Couth glared at Max with a raised eyebrow as Violent Purple took a step back.
U.N. Couth: You don’t have a therapist. You don’t need therapy!
Max Kael: I mean, I don’t have a therapist I pay but I was watching some youtube videos about self-care and I think I’m mak-
Couth cut him off by snapping her fingers loudly.
U.N. Couth: You don’t think. You wrestle and you make money. Leave the thinking to me. Speaking of which I just dropped a ton of your new merchandise revenue on a totally revamped entrance.
Max perks up.
Max Kael: Did you get the song?!
U.N. Couth: Yes but I submitted the paperwork late. Let’s go see what they play for you when you walk out and find out.
Kael claps excitedly, his depression pushed away by a cloud of giddy excitement. Probably nothing wrong with that, red flags just means you’re near Switzerland, right? Couth and Violent Purple exited the frame leaving Max who pretends to follow them before stopping. He quickly turns around and pulls his wallet out.
Max Kael: Here is a coupon for 10% off a purchase of twenty dollars or more at Golden Coral. If they’re still a thing, treat yourself. I’ll be back at the same time next week, thanks doc!
He threw the coupon at the cut out before scrambling away to catch up with his handler and bodyguard.
WHO’S IT GOING TO BE?
Elsewhere backstage, we immediately see a sight that makes most viewers sick to their stomach: the lurching figure of Paxton Ray walking down the hallway with the sparkling helmeted Foster Nackedy bringing up the rear. As the booing trails off, the two men talk.
Foster Nackedy: All right, they said they’d be right around here, so we can wait.
Paxton Ray: Who they sendin’?
Foster Nackedy: Probably Mills. He’s jumpy so it makes for good TV when you growl at him or whatever.
Paxton Ray: I don’t growl.
Foster Nackedy: Sure you don’t, buddy.
After a moment, Foster sits down in a nearby chair.
Foster Nackedy: You know they sent Mills to the gym a month ago? Chasing some stupid rumor. I sent him packing but I noticed that he came back twice to interview staff members. It was kind of weird.
Paxton doesn’t even pretend to look in Foster’s direction.
Paxton Ray: What’s this ‘bout, anyway?
Foster Nackedy: Who knows? They said something about your match for Ultraviolence, but not much more than that. Hell, they may not even send anyone. You know how these guys are, always trying to get one over on us.
The silence settles in over the duo.
Foster Nackedy: Maybe it’ll be Angelica.
Paxton looks up suddenly.
Paxton Ray: Why’d ya say it like that?
Foster Nackedy: Like what?
Paxton Ray: Angelica. Ya sweet on her or something?
Foster Nackedy: Nah. She’s pretty, but a lot of women are pretty. If I was sweet on anyone, it would’ve been…
Oops, Foster almost said something vulnerable on TV! He realizes this, then shakes his head.
Foster Nackedy: Never mind.
Paxton Ray: Whatever ya say.
Once again the Murdergator and Disco Man sit in silence.
Paxton Ray: What’s the name of the one Rezin tortured?
Foster Nackedy: Simon Tillier?
Paxton Ray: Yeah, that’s him. Maybe it’s him, he’s used t’bad treatment.
Foster Nackedy: You’re going to do something to him?
Paxton Ray: Depends on how I feel.
Finally, after another long stretch of silence, Doug, the PRIME staff member, walks up.
Paxton Ray: Sup Doug?
Foster Nackedy: You’re an interviewer now?
Doug makes a very uncomfortable face.
Doug: No way. That would be bananas. Ms. Troy told me to give you this.
He hands Foster a piece of paper.
Doug: Beers later?
Paxton Ray: Sure thing.
Doug walks off, leaving Foster staring at his client.
Foster Nackedy: Beers? With the guy whose collar shocked you?
Paxton Ray: Whatever. He didn’t press the trigger. Plus, Doug’s cool. What’s the note say?
Foster looks at the note and reads it aloud.
Foster Nackedy: “Hey dipshits. I’m not going to send a member of my staff for you to torture. The match against The Anglo Luchador at Ultraviolence is No Holds Barred. I’d say good luck but I don’t feel like lying.”
Paxton Ray: Oh I like the sound of that.
Foster Nackedy: You like being called a dipshit?
Paxton stares at Foster, then shakes his head and walks away.
Foster Nackedy: Because I kind of do.
With that we cut to another backstage area, this one with an interviewer.
TOO LIVE CREW
Cameras open to the distinct sound of background noise. In front of our adorning viewers is the one and only Matt Mills, eagerly awaiting the break he gets after match intros. Instead, he’s glancing at his watch and pacing around like daddy forgot to pick him up.
Matt Mills: “Where is this guy-”
Around the corner, without pause, comes a raucous roar. It’s not a fighting type of noise but more of a celebratory type. The kind when you hit a home run. Just like that, PRIME cameras peel away from Matt Mills, scatter frantically around the corner before finding a large group of crew hands and stage staff. Mills noticing the white guy twerking slightly outside the main circle.
Crash: D’oh! I think I pulled my buttcheek…
Matt Mills: Mr… Jacks-
The out of place politeness catches the man in the unbuttoned floral shirt, white headband, and sunglasses way off guard. He’s a fucking spy. Crash knows it when he grabs his wrist and sees a goddamn microphone. Not even trying to hide it anymore.
Crash: Look, Gorbachov, call me Crash. And me and my compatriots were simply spending some down time… getting down!
A laugh and positive reception leads to elbow pats from his newfound friends, which brings an excuse for Crash to turn back and smile. Matt Mills simply glances over his gang of candidates but finds only one worth interviewing. The man was wearing a wrestling singlet under a leather jacket, headband, and sunglasses. The tension dulls when he smiles like a shark at a feast.
Crash: I’ve been aiming for this since the day I put on a singlet. These people…
Our hero turns back, met with a dozen or so adorning sets of hopeful, wishful, and optimistic eyeballs, before stretching out his arm and seemingly picking up all the well wishes. He lowers his gaze.
Crash: …they deserve everything I’ve got.
A slight cheer follows that heartfelt sentiment. Crash begins to remove his leather jacket, his shirt, and then his sunglasses. It’s when Crash casually walks right past Matt Mills that it’s clear that this man has one thing on his mind. And it’s not very peaceful.
We then cut to ringside for said match.
MAX KAEL? VS. CRASH JACKSON
The match graphic appears. The intrigue continues.
Richard Parker: More Max Kael? Ohhhh let’s go!
Nick Stuart: Back-to-back weeks of this guy is one thing. Back-to-back weeks of U.N. Couth, I can’t get her voice out of my head! It’s like nails on a chalkboard.
Richard Parker: It is beautiful.
Nick Stuart: (pause) Who are you? Nails on a chalkboard is a terrible thing!
Richard Parker: It is beautiful.
Nick Stuart: We’re done here. Vince, take over!
The scene goes to ringside, regardless.
Vince Howard: This match is for ONE FALL!
Everyone in the crowd just loves knowing the match is going to be for ONE FALL!
Vince Howard: Introducing first, from Buffalo, New York… weighing two-hundred-thirty-eight pounds… he is THE NORTHERN LIGHT… JASON “CRASH” JACKSON!!
The arena lights drop into darkness, save for the backlights in the entryway, as a mix of curious silence and spontaneous cheers comes over the crowd. With haste, a figure emerges from the back and stands head high, fist raised, and strikes a pose for a brief second.
LEEEET’S GET READY TO RUUUMMMBLE
The bell dings as Volbeat’s “A Warrior’s Call” floods the airwaves and brings the lights back up. A chaotic lightshow takes over the entrance ramp, with flashing white and red strobe lights, before Crash jumps in the air and stomps both feet in clear view for everyone to see. He roars violently with a fiery, toothy grin before beginning his frantic descent to the ring.
FEEL THE FIRE, HE’S ENTERING THE RING
HIS MINDSET KNOWS ONLY HOW TO WIIIIIIIN
Crash reaches the ring while pumping his fist in unison with the beat, being joined by many fans simply out of respect for fist pumping, and scales the stairs at the same hellacious pace before turning around to roar at the crowd again.
Nick Stuart: A lot of energy. I like this guy!
Richard Parker: Pining for Max Kael? already over here.
Nick Stuart: Pining, are you?
Richard Parker: Don’t judge me. (Changing course) This Jason guy is an idiot because of this annoying over-the-top entrance! Not a fan!
Nick takes the high road and doesn’t point out Richard is judging Jason Jackson, because he’s a hypocrite. Nevertheless, the entrance moves on.
UNLEASHING HIS HELL
YOU WON’T EVEN HEAR THE BELL
Jackson leaps over the top rope and lands with a thunderous rattle before pacing around the ring and nodding his head repeatedly. He stops in the middle, facing the crowd.
FEEL THE POWER OF THE WAAAAARRIOOOOR!
Crash steps towards the crowd, slamming his fist into the air and yelling along with the song.
He turns to the opposite side of the arena and offers the same sentiment.
LET’S GET READY TO RUUUUMBLE
Much more fist pumping begins with sweat flying off his face and arms, landing on the lucky fans in the front row.
The music begins to die out as Crash locks in on the entrance way with an alarming stare, holding a violent gaze and snarl that raises red flags all over the place.
Richard Parker: Now the GOOD part!
Vince Howard: His opponent… from Arkham, Massachusetts… weighing in at two-hundred-twenty pounds… he is???… MAX… KAEL?????!!!!!!
The lights slowly faded in the arena as an ominous piano trilling plays over the P.A.
“I’ve just closed my eyes again.. Climbed aboard the Dream Weaver Train..”
Gary Wright’s voice creeps over the sound system, a soothing, soft sound that matches the soft pale light that touches the stage. Yes, indeed, it is in fact Dream Weaver, specifically the Wayne’s World version.
“Driver take away my worries of today.. And leave tomorrow behind..”
As the music swells Max Kael? can be seen rushing out onto the stage, straight to the center of the soft pale light. He raises his arms in unison with the music as it reaches its height aaaannnd…
“ooooOOOOOH DREAAAAM WEAVER!”
The stage comes alive with a single burst of glittering white pyro as Max Kael? poses with his hands held high above his head. The silver haired crone, U.N. Couth, crept out to his right while Max’s bodyguard, Violent Purple, stepped to his left.
Richard Parker: First of all, incredible entrance. Second, new muscle for Max?
As Gary Wright continued to serenade the crowd Max swaggered toward the ring with a massive smile stretched across his face. While the fans boo him, the music and the catchy bass line muffle their discontentment. For his part Max doesn’t appear to pay them any attention as he struts up to the ring steps.
Kael climbs up the ring steps before reaching the apron where he swiftly wipes off his feet. Stepping between middle and top rope, Max runs in a circle inside the ring until the timing of Wright’s famous song repeats the stanza.
“ooooOOOOOH DREAAAAM WEAVER!”
He immediately thrusts his arms up into the air, palms forward as a singular pillar of light shines down on Max Kael?. The formerly dead man then pulls his arms into a flex. As he does so, he bares his pearly white teeth toward the camera in the form of a predator smile, his brown eyes wild and wide.
As his music dies down Max slinks toward his corner apparently saddened his music is no longer playing.
Nick Stuart: This Max is something else.
Richard Parker: Incredible! I’ll say it again, best entrance in the history of professional wrestling.
Nick Stuart: Calm down fanboy. Are you going to oogle everything this man does?
Richard Parker: Probably.
The crowd readies.
Nick Stuart: With TWO managers at ringside, you have to wonder if the advantage is going to be all in Max’s favor. I certainly am.
Richard Parker: Favor? Are you accusing them of cheating, already!?
Max Kael? walks up to Jason Jackson as the two stand eye-to-eye and toe-to-toe, even if Max is a little taller.
Nick Stuart: Glad to see Max has energy after his theme song closed off.
Richard Parker: Maybe he will wrestle for the SPARK of hearing the theme song AFTER THE MATCH. If you catch my drift.
Nick Stuart: (Heavy sigh)
U.N. Couth is shouting something on the outside, sounding like “go for the poke” but instead Max reaches out his right arm and wants to lock into a grapple.
Richard Parker: See!? Honorable! No cheating!
Jackson agrees and the two lock horns. Kael? is trying his best to overpower Jackson but even though he’s a little shorter, Crash has the weight and, perhaps, muscle advantage. He starts working Max into a corner.
U.N. Couth continues to scream directions at Kael?. It sounds like she wants him to break the hold or maybe go for a low blow since the opportunity is there.
Instead, he’s worked into a corner and the hold is broken. Jackson takes his free arm and slams it against Kael?’s chest with a chop.
The crowd, of course, WOOOOOOOOs in reply.
Kael? ducks and moves out from the buckle. He throws Jackson in the corner and then lands a chop of his own with a smile on his face.
But after the WOO, the crowd boos.
The referee has asked the action be taken out of the corner when Crash sticks his body through the top and middle rope. Surprisingly, Max listens. He walks to the center of the ring and waves Crash Jackson on.
Jackson sprints out and Max and Jason go through a sequence where Jackson ducks a clothesline but hops onto the side of Max Kael? and swings all the way around him. Jackson tries for a DDT but Kael? anchors himself into the mat and nothing further happens. Then Max grabs Crash by his tights and looks for a suplex when in mid-air, Crash reverses the hold and hits a modified stunner. Kael? stumbles into the buckle across the way and Jackson races in with a big splash!
Nick Stuart: Wonderful counters and an excellent splash!
However, U.N. Couth does not agree while Violent Purple stands calmingly beside U.N. Is Purple ready to strike? Who knows…
Kael? is whipped into the corner across the way and meets it chest-first. He bounces out and wobbles backwards to the center of the ring, where Jackson hits a back stabber.
Nick Stuart: We have our first pinfall of the contest!
Jackson keeps the offense going. He’s quick to hurl Kael? to the ropes. Kael? ducks the first leg clothesline attempt as he bounces off to the next set of ropes… yet this time he’s put down to the mat with an incredible looking running cross body block!
In one fluent motion, Jackson lifts Kael? into a fireman’s carry and then lands a spinning DDT!
Nick Stuart: Another cover!
Richard Parker: U.N. Couth is NOT happy!
Nick Stuart: Of course she isn’t. I believe she’s been encouraging Max to cheat this entire time!
Richard Parker: I’d never!
Jackson knows he has to keep the offense going. He drills Max across the temple with a couple forearms for good measure and then hurls the former dead guy into the ropes- Jackson lands a drop toe hold into a standing moonsault splash! He rolls Kael? onto his back and hooks a leg again!
REVERSED INTO A BACKSLIDE PINFALL BY MAX!
Both men are on their feet. Max ducks a superkick and spins Jackson to have his back facing him. Kael? lands an atomic drop. This is followed by a side Russian leg sweep and finally a falling headbutt!
Kael? keeps the offense going and it’s only until now U.N. Couth has calmed TF down. Kael? Irish whips Jackson into the ropes but follows him there. It’s clear Kael? doesn’t want to give Jackson the time to find his own footing so Kael? meets Jackson at the ropes and delivers a clothesline sending the Buffalo native out of the ring.
Nick Stuart: This was a great call by Kael?. You can see through his wrestling he’s respecting what Crash Jackson brings to the table. He didn’t waste a second meeting him at those ropes.
And Max doesn’t waste a second on the outside, either. He slips out of the ring, grabs Jason Jackson… and, at first, it looks like U.N. Couth wants him to steer Jackson into the steel steps or guardrail. Instead, Max throws Crash into the apron and then comes in with a clothesline, which knocks The Nightern Light into the ring.
Kael? gains that predatory look back in his eyes as he enters and throws a flash leg drop down for good measure. He pulls Jackson to his feet and connects with a belly-to-belly suplex. Max holds on and hits another. Max holds on and delivers a release suplex this time, tossing Jackson in the air as he does.
Jackson’s back hits the mat HARD. It looks like he’s out!
Nick Stuart: Kael? with the cover!
Couth DEMANDS excellence and Kael? is going to certainly try. He whips Jackson onto his feet when-
DESPERATION JAW BREAKER!
Kael? SHOOTS into the air, bicycle kicking at nothing while he slams back-first into the mat. The crowd cheers as Jackson has changed momentum. Jackson bounces off the ropes and leaps HIGH in the air with a wickedly performed big splash, connecting chest-to-chest.
Jackson stays on for a cover!
Couth was nearing a stroke on the outside, shouting at the referee to count slower and saying Max should’ve known better than to put himself in this position. Regardless, Jackson continues to be in the driver’s seat. He lifts Max’s head up with him and lands a few stiff shots to the dead dude’s skull. Once Jackson takes off to the ropes-
Max snatches him and performs a backdrop! Crash lands on the back of his head!
Nick Stuart: Jason hasn’t moved!
Max rolls over and hooks a leg!
BARELY A SHOULDER UP!
Kael? props Jackson to his feet and takes a good five steps back.
King kong lariat!
Jackson flips inside out and is once again expressing himself as DOA with a motionless effort. Kael? grins as he stomps over, pulls Jackson to his feet one more time-
Another desperation jack breaker!
The crowd cheers! U.N. Couth isn’t happy, thinking Max Kael? put his guard down. The crowd rallies in support as either man could rise to their feet. Meanwhile, Violent Purple cracks her knuckles.
Jackon tries to kip up but he’s super unsteady. He holds the back of his head while Kael?, on all fours, crawls towards the ropes and snatches the bottom one. He pulls himself to the second rope and takes it. Then the top rope.
Max spins around and right into a superkick under the jaw!
Kael?’s hands FLY in the air as he falls and lands across the ropes. Jackson connects with a second superkick, the WILD LEFT, and is powering up for a definitive blow.
It doesn’t happen. Max ducks at the very last second and U.N. Couth slowly climbs onto the apron across the other side of the ring. Referee Ashley Barlow is having none of it. She immediately makes her way over to Couth and demands the angry old lady remove herself from the rampway. Ashley’s also keeping eyes inside the ring but she still doesn’t have eyes in the back of her head.
Jackson bounces off the other side of the ring ropes and this is where Violent Purple is ready for him.
Crash isn’t ready for her.
A hard, stiff-as-shit shot to the face, crushing Jackson in the nose. Max marches over, snatches the stunned body of Jason and methodically kicks him in the stomach. Kael? hoists Crash in the air and connects with the Weapon of Max Destruction, a brutal looking finish!
Kael? hooks the leg for good measure. By now, Couth is off the apron and Violent Purple has long moved back to where she resides.
DING DING DING
Richard Parker: So much for cheating, huh?
Nick Stuart: So much for cheating? What did Violent Purple and U.N. Couth just do?
Richard Parker: Max wrestled honestly.
Nick Stuart: Whatever.
Couth and Purple are now in the ring. Max’s hand is raised as Ashley Barlow then exits and allows the celebration to continue. Crash Jackson has since rolled to the side of the squared circle, exits and walks to the back, holding the side of his head. The Kael? family soon follows, as U.N. Couth leads the way with Max in the middle, semi-recovering from the contest and Violent Purple bringing up the back end, rubbing her knuckles. Not from pain, but from the amazing feeling of Jackson’s nose against it.
Richard Parker: I am really enjoying this Max Kael? and his extended family. I’d love to see more!
Nick Stuart: I don’t think that’s going to be a problem.
U.N. Couth is going batshit insane (with pride) on the top of the ramp, telling the fans in the first few rows to get used to what they see.
Nick Stuart: …Unfortunately.
Revival goes to commercial.
COMMERCIAL: 24 HOUR RULE
SMASH AND GRAB AND LAUGH AND SMASH
Back from commercial, we have a first person view from a camera while a PRIME cameraman makes their way down the hallway. But not for long.
Off Camera Voice That Sure Sounds Russian: Whoops!
The world turns upside down as the camera (and presumably the cameraman), falls to the floor in a heap. There’s a beautiful view of the ceiling, and a shot of Alexei Ruslan from below as he looks away from the camera.
Alexei Ruslan: Oh dear! Did you not see “slippery when not paying attention” sign?
With a snicker, Ruslan’s face fills the view and he lifts the camera.
Alexei Ruslan: I think I just take this…
From there, the view shakes and jostles as Ruslan carries the camera down two different hallways, before throwing open a door. Inside the room, Ivan Stanislav is more focused on a full-length-mirror-that-is-not-full-length-for-him.
Alexei Ruslan: Praporshchik! I have it!
Stanislav turns and grins.
Ivan Stanislav: Well done, comrade Ruslan!
Stanislav rubs his huge hands together as his grin turns to a scowl.
Ivan Stanislav: PRIME may try to silence us on internet. Interviewers may be too fearful to grant us audience. But never underestimate Russian ingenuity!
Ivan spreads his arms wide and his voice booms.
Ivan Stanislav: Lindsay Troy, for all of your obstruction, I wish to thank you for putting Brandon Youngblood and The Anglo Luchador in ring with myself. And also granting Paxton Ray to be at my side. Tonight, all of you will watch the utter destruction of two of PRIME’s beloved figureheads!
Ivan grips his suspenders and towers over Ruslan.
Ivan Stanislav: PRIME faithful will weep tears of blood when this night is through. And they will do so once again come UltraViolence. Tonight, Brandon Youngblood signs away his title to me! Tonight, The Russian Bear and the Butcher of Bayou’s will be victorious. But do not fret, Youngblood and Luchador…
Ruslan drops the camera and angles it up towards Ivan. He’s positively enormous now, his frame eclipsing everything.
Ivan Stanislav: Youngblood! Luchador! Behold the same view that so many others have experienced. Coral Avalon, Nova, Gamble, Mortimer, Nate Colton, Hayes Hanlon, Cancer Jiles, Jared Sykes, and even Justine Calvin, to name a few! Get used to it, Brandon Youngblood and Luchador! Your Universal Champion is coming for both of you!
Ivan lifts his combat boot and grins.
Ivan Stanislav: And my dear Scarlet Sickle, Lindsay Troy? Fine me double for this. Check is in mail! DYAAHAAHAA!!
The boot descends…
Ivan Stanislav: DYAAHAA—
…it fills our view…
We then cut to ringside.
The funky grooves of “Say Your Prayers (live)” by Neil Francis blasts through the darkly lit area. White and purple spotlights sweep over the crowd. Strippers dressed like angels dance to the music inside the ring. A royal purple rug covers the canvas with the Williams family flying =W= crest pressed upon it in gold. Large slabs of stained glass windows about the dimensions of a standard door stand up against each of the four ring posts. A plump black man in a tight suit, dripping sweat and dapping his head with a golden handkerchief, stands in front of a golden lectern raised above two wooden pews on either side at ring level facing the hard camera.
Reverend Nathaniel Clay: Sinners, Listen up. I said SINNERS listen UP. Salvation HA! is upon us HAAAA. THE LAWD HAS HEARD YOUR CALLINGS. Your PERSONAL Jesusssssssssss. The Heavenly Hall of Famer. THE PONTIFF OF THE PILEDRIVVVVVAAA The swami of the sue-play! The miracle of the microphone. The HA! The ratings HA! revivaler. The Host of this here Conversational Confessionals, my savior and your yours… HOYYYYYYYYT HAAAA BYGAWD WILLIAMSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!
Richard Parker: Praise Hoyt! He has returned!!!
The right reverend Clay throws his hands to the sky as the ring posts start pouring out bright white sparklers. Above him, being lowered down wearing Angel Wings, is Hoyt Williams. The Pontiff of PRIME is wearing a sparklingly black Richard Jewels (of Manchester & Stuart Hughes of Liverpool) cashmere suit made of the finest wool, silk, and best cut pure diamonds. Paired nicely with white unicorn skin boat shoes, matching his Hermes Jeu Du Fer tie and universal title cufflinks.
The crowd is clapping along to the music and enjoying the spectacle. Once Hoyt touches down he shares a hug with Reverend Clay as the dancing angels gavotte over to the Savior and quickly unhook the wings and harness. Hoyt does a few Jumping Jacks for Jesus while the girls and the reverend exit the ring, the smoke clears, and the house lights turn on.
Hoyt Williams: Zechariah 1:3 “Therefore tell the people: This is what the LORD ALmighty says: ‘return to me’, and I will return to you,’ says the lord ALmighty.” Why have I returned, you may ask?? Because wrestling is too violent and I want to bring peace between combatants and give them salvation instead of the devil’s brawl. To give them a place to talk things out under the guidance of my celestial wisdom. TONIGHT we cleanse the soul of one angry young man. HE whom was REJECTED by all wrestling schools, only to receive guidance from his FATHER’S poorly YELPED grappling academy. A truly distasteful young man with the personality of Joe Montana. So now without further rebuke, your savior summons from the vile state of Indiana…“Naughty” Nate Colton.
“Tryin’” by the Eagles blasts through the arena, and while there’s still a contingent of supporters, the boos seem to be growing louder with every show. Nate Colton steps out in front of the crowd a moment later, looking none too excited to be there himself. He’s dressed in simple attire; a PRIME polo shirt, blue jeans, etc. Due to the results of the last show, he’s not carrying the Five Star Title, but there’s another accessory even more conspicuous by its absence.
Nick Stuart: I can’t help but notice that Nate hasn’t worn his ring jacket lately. That can’t be a good sign for his mental state.
Richard Parker: It’s a good sign for the rest of his family. Maybe they wised up and kicked him out.
Nick Stuart: I seriously doubt that, Richard.
Hoyt motions over to the wrestler to take a set in the pew, which Nate does. He looks kinda strange, lounging back alone in a church pew.
Hoyt Williams: I love bestowing advice upon the younger generation. Perhaps next time you talk with your SAVIOR and a wrestling legend like myself you should dress up nicer. People notice. I don’t know if you know this, but Heaven has a very strict dress code. We don’t want poor, tired, or sickly people getting in. We’re heaven, not America.
Nate obviously doesn’t agree, but Hoyt steamrolls right over him before he can respond. Probably for the best; the middle of the ring is not the place for a theological debate.
Hoyt Williams: I’ve noticed lately that these wrestling sodomites in the crowd have begun to sour on you. I too, being a second generation MEGA star have experienced the Judas and Peter effect from these horrible humans. Is your fandom sinking, and how does that make you feel?
Nate Colton: Doesn’t feel good. But after the last couple of months, I can’t say I blame ‘em. I’m not a big fan of Nate Colton either.
Hoyt Williams: Me neither. Your behavior has been absolutely sinful as of late. Devil Dancing with numerous harlots, spreading slanderous rumors about your fellow man, harassing PRIME employees, well that part is perfectly fine…and let’s not forget your threat to “show hog.” I assume that’s some kinda foul euphemism best kept with the abhorrence that is Jabber.
Nate starts blushing the moment Hoyt starts listing his sins…and with every new transgression, his face turns a brighter shade of crimson.
Hoyt Williams: If I was Montell Williams and not Hoyt Williams I’d probably be revealing a paternity test right about now from one of your floozies. Has the devil overtaken you in some spiritual orgy of evil? Defend yourself young man!
Nate Colton: I…
He falters for a moment. The crowd, sensing his weakness, boo him even harder.
Buck up, kid. This is what you came out here for.
Nate Colton: I can’t. I screwed up so much, and everything I did to fix it just made it worse. Especially bringing in Savannah Scandal–
Nate Colton: I had a reason for that, I was trying…ah, hell. Doesn’t really matter now, does it? I knew I’d get a lot of heat, and I thought I could take it…but…look, I don’t want people feeling sorry for me, right? ‘Cause I brought this on myself.
Richard Parker: Don’t worry, Nate. Nobody was.
Nick Stuart: Shh.
Nate Colton: But if this ain’t rock bottom, I can probably spit on it from here. I just feel…useless. And alone.
The audience gives an “awwwww” of sympathy. Maybe they even mean it…but probably not.
Hoyt Williams: Maybe you should try accepting the LORD in your life. I’ll give you one of my brochures to join in my salvation that you can look over after the show. But first…you’re not alone! Let’s bring out the best–well, only–friends you’ve got! THE SAVIOR is here to SAVE YOU! Bring out the disciples of love!
Nick Stuart: We don’t need this right now!
The slow and emotional instrumental beat of Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” begins, as the video board also activates. PRETTY PINK© hearts BURST across the screen as Vickie and Jonathan-Christopher Hall slow dance in the background, superimposed. Hoyt pops in a set of earplugs.
The crowd was booing before but now they are merciless.
Richard Parker: While I’m all for this, how can Vickie and co. come out here and dilute the divine teachings of HOYT?!
Nick Stuart: I agree…but he invited them out here, Richard. Are you questioning Hoyt’s wisdom?
Richard Parker: I…but the…SHUT UP! Don’t try to deceive me, you dirty deceiving…deceiver!
Once Steven Tyler’s voice starts singing over the PA, Vickie Hall pops onto the stage from behind the curtain, sporting the cutest little PRETTY PINK© onesie, complete with white leggings and We’re Not in Kansas Anymore sparkling slippers, albeit in her favorite color.
Nick Stuart: The worst fashion sense.
Richard Parker: Hey, she’s got branding down.
The crowd continues to jeer as Vickie giggles and thanks the crowd for the warm welcome, totally oblivious to their actual response. Meanwhile, Hoyt and Colton simply watch inside the ring. Colton has a look on his face suggesting additional worry.
Jonathan-Christopher is out next. He looks more confident than normal as he marches up beside his Amazing Life Partner, snatches her by the waist and they tango to the dreamy theme song. Finally, cousin to JCH, Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy emerges. He’s holding a knitted PRETTY PINK© handbasket. He realizes he’s off-cue so he races ahead of the adorable couple and starts spreading tiny little flower petals all over the rampway, leading the way for Vickie and Jonathan-Christopher like a fairy spreading wonderful and majestic pixie dust.
Nick Stuart: I’m going to be sick. Can someone shut these guys out already?
Richard Parker: Shut them out!? Jonathan-Christopher is on THE RUN OF HIS LIFE right now!
Nick Stuart: I enjoyed them a lot better when he was losing.
While the announcers bicker, the reality is they are taking up air time because Vickie and Jonathan-Christopher are arm-in-arm, gracefully taking forEVERRRRR to make their way down to ringside. By now, Hoyt stares at his Slim d’Hermès Quantieme Perpetuel watch and while Colton has his eyes directed towards the trio, he’s likely spaced out.
Running out of flower petals to toss in various directions, Tristan-Crispin leaps onto the ring apron. Jonathan-Christopher lets go of his ALP upon arrival as well. TCG and JCH open the ropes for Vickie, as she roams freely in love up the stage, a dainty little gallup until she reaches the apron, wanders over to the open ropes and easily slips inside. Jonathan-Christopher drops the ropes immediately after, leaps over the top rope and takes Vickie’s right hand.
Their theme music comes to a thankful close.
LOUDER boos build up. Vickie allows the moment to continue. Clearly by her facial expressions she thinks they are cheering her.
Hoyt Williams: It really is a sin to have an entrance longer than mine.
Unphased, Vickie reaches forward and plucks the mic out of Hoyt’s lectern microphone stand. He silently smites her with a biblical curse.
Vickie Hall: HELLO WORLD!
Vickie Hall: Now that’s no way to greet Nate Colton!
Nick Stuart: She… she thinks they’re booing Colton?
Richard Parker: Well, they were!
Nick Stuart: Okay, but he wasn’t getting heat like this. This is for Vickie!
It’s more than obvious The Woman of Wonder isn’t grasping any of it. After taking in the crowd response, Vickie narrows her eyes…
With no thought to personal spaces and ignoring Hoyt’s cue to sit in a pew, Vickie walks right up onto the Pontiffs platform.
Vickie Hall: HELLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!
A frantic, over-the-top wave, almost getting right in Hoyt’s face which sours him like he just smelled rotting eggs.
Vickie Hall: I’m Vickie Hall and this…
She motions towards her ALP and his cousin.
Vickie Hall: Is my LOVE CONVOY!
Vickie is overjoyed as Hoyt pulls out a stress ball from his suit jacket and starts squeezing it. Vickie stops to reflect fondly of the group around her.
Vickie Hall: I want to say thank you for inviting us!
The look on Hoyt’s face suggests he’d like to say something… if he had a microphone. Hoyt wasn’t expecting to have his own microphone taken out of the lectern mic holder and for his show completely commandeered. He tries reaching out for the mic but Vickie “inadvertently” pulls away just in time.
Now PRETTY PINK©’s attention has switched…
To Nate Colton.
The crowd grows tense as Vickie tilts her head and squints her eyes.
Vickie Hall: Nate. NATE. NATEEEEEE my adorable newbie friend! Gosh golly, we were heartbroken over your loss two weeks ago!
Nick Stuart: Ummm… Vickie sounds genuine?
Richard Parker: Of course she does! She is not a monster, Nick.
Nick Stuart: Ummm…
Vickie, mic still in hand, twists herself towards the crowd in an attempt to get them to cheer. Some do, mildly. Others continue booing.
Vickie shakes her head. It’s like she’s suddenly caught on to reality.
Vickie Hall: This man, Nate Colton, he has been through a lot. Like A LOT, A LOT. He didn’t mean to invite that floozie Savannah Scandal into the PRIME Wrestling doors! Yeah, she caused many a-problem. Lindsay Troy did the right thing and kicked her out, never to be seen again!
Vickie lowers her head and mumbles the next line.
Vickie Hall: Swear I was this close to choking Savannah out, throwing a monitor at her head and then lunging at my boss, too.
Back to the big girl voice, Vickie acknowledges the fans once again.
Vickie Hall: Nate Colton took Cecilworth to the MAX. Cecil is GOOD. Jonathan-Christopher better hope he’s not booked against Cecilworth! My scouting report says my Amazing Life Partner wouldn’t stand a chance!
Vickie chuckles at her joke, although it takes a hint of confidence out of JCH’s sails as he stands in the background.
Vickie Hall: Back to my main man, Nate The Great. Nate has such a wicked record in PRIME! He is a BOON to the LOVE CONVOY as our newest addition. He is an Edition! He is the Pure Soul Edition! Fights with his heart on his sleeve, ensures every opponent is on his game!
As Vickie rambles on about the positives of Nate Colton, Tristan-Crispin continues to get pumped in the background. Meanwhile, Jonathan-Christopher seems enthused… but also slightly less with every passing second, as Vickie continues to promote Nate.
Vickie Hall: The boy went through a heartbreak! I could only imagine how awful it feels! A wounded warrior, still chugging himself out there for all of YOU to watch! Yes, he’s made mistakes. But I ask you, dear PRIMATES… haven’t we all?
Nick Stuart: What the hell is happening?
Richard Parker: I think Vickie is starting to win some of the crowd over for Nate!
It’s true. There aren’t an overwhelming amount of cheers, but it’s a lot less booing than when Colton first walked into this interview.
Vickie Hall: I’ve forgiven Nate for what he’s done. This, coming from the tiny little girl who once was offended by him.
Vickie hangs her head in shame.
Vickie Hall: Nate…
She walks over to him and places a hand on his shoulder.
Vickie Hall: For that, I am truly sorry.
The crowd is stunned as she raises her head and with an incredible amount of energy, she addresses the masses once more.
Vickie Hall: Nate isn’t “just” Great, he’s… AMAZING!!
Nick Stuart: I… I am dumbfounded.
Most of the crowd cheers as Vickie proudly poses, showing off her incredible effort. Nate Colton also looks thankful, although clearly working through other emotions in his head.
Vickie walks up to Nate once more.
Vickie Hall: Nate The Great, you are never alone now that you’re a part of the LOVE CONVOY. We love you, and we WILL support you throughout your entire Colton Journey!
Richard Parker: Is that Nate’s own ‘Hallmark Journey’?
Again, while Nate Colton looks appreciative of Vickie’s kind words, a worried expression spreads across his face.
Nate Colton: Vickie… why are you saying that? I never said I’d join the Love Convoy.
For the first time in months, something Nate Colton did actually gets a cheer.
Suddenly, a mildly rattled Vickie Hall finds Hoyt’s eyes and tosses her left hand freely in the air. Hoyt rolls his eyes and shakes his head.
Vickie Hall: (off-hand) He is being an awfully silly goose right now.
And Vickie walks DIRECTLY back to Nate Colton.
Vickie Hall: Aren’t you?
Vickie begins to question the “really original” nickname she made up for him.
Vickie Hall: Nate… The… Great?
And yet Nate’s facial expressions haven’t changed, suggesting to Vickie he’s not a silly goose.
Vickie Hall: Nate. You’re good. You’re great! You’re the best one of the group. You can’t leave me like this. Sure, you didn’t defeat Cecil but don’t let one loss derail you! You think Darin Zion can beat anyone? Jesus Shitballs honey, he’s Darin Fucking Zion.
Vickie’s eyes look desperate, while Hoyt is now yelling in the background about blasphemy and foul language. He starts shouting for another microphone to one of the ringside attendants.
Vickie Hall: You think Tristan-Crispin is capable? He retired from wrestling because he can’t throw a god damn hammerlock!
Vickie points to where TCG stands. The Nuzzle Lord is too stupid to realize he’s being slandered. He simply replies by nuzzling himself with a wide, happy-go-lucky smile.
Vickie Hall: My god, Jonathan-Christopher’s had tons of losses and only now does he have momentum. It took FOREVERRRRRR!
Dagger. Heart. JCH.
Vickie continues to be laser focused.
Vickie Hall: You are the best thing to happen to us! Why are you leaving!?
There is tensionnnnnnnn.
It’s almost enough to make Nate balk, but he sets his jaw and pushes forward. After months of confusion and wrong turns, his course is finally clear.
Nate Colton: Let’s get this straight right now, Vickie. I’m not leaving, because I never joined. And I never joined, because you never asked. You just assumed I was on board, because the idea that I might not be never crossed your mind.
Oh dang, a little bit of fire from the Next Diamond. Haven’t seen that in a while. Colton breaks eye contact with the Woman of Wonder as he continues.
Nate Colton: And I might not be real smart when it comes to love–hell, if I was, I wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place. But I do know this. Love doesn’t just mean “do whatever I say.” It means being there for each other. It means support, and respect, and actually listening to what your partner wants.
Vickie Hall: I don’t know what you’re talking about-
Nate Colton: I wasn’t talking to you.
If there’s one thing they love in Detroit, it’s someone telling off Vickie Hall. It barely registers with Colton, though; he’s staring intently at the person who really needs to hear what he just said.
Nate Colton: Jonathan…I appreciate the hospitality you’ve all shown me lately. I think you’ve got a lot of talent, and you’re probably an alright guy. A little strange maybe, but hell. Hardly the weirdest guy in your group.
Nate casts a glance at Tristan-Crispin, who is still oblivious to his surroundings.
Nate Colton: But YOU, Vickie…it’s always been obvious that you’re the brains of this outfit, and you think some really bad stuff. I mean, we all saw what you did to Jared Sykes and Justine Calvin. You might be the craziest person in PRIME, and I can’t believe you’d ever think I’d want to be a part of that. Y’know, maybe that’s why you never actually asked me to join the Love Convoy…because somewhere in that twisted little mind of yours, you still realized that if you did, my answer would be ABSOLUTELY. NOT.
The entire time Nate speaks, Vickie’s face bubbles with anger. It’s almost like she’s suffering from paralysis. Reality: she probably does for a second or two. Anxiety can be crippling, ask Jonathan-Christopher Hall.
Nate Colton: And I-
Vickie slaps the microphone out of Nate’s hand!
At first Vickie stands there, stone faced, no longer bubbling with anger. She is stoic. Deadpan. Staring into the man who just broke the LOVE CONVOY’s heart.
Hoyt doesn’t know what to do but pray.
Neither do the LOVE CONVOY boys.
Until Vickie tilts her head into the rafters.
Vickie Hall: GET HIMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!
Suddenly, Tristan-Crispin breaks out of his nuzzling and is in full KICK ASS MODE. He hits an unsuspecting Nate Colton head-on with a clothesline when Vickie ducks (although she likely didn’t need to because she’s so short). The crowd jeers as Colton crashes to the canvas and Hoyt bolts from the table he was sitting at.
Vickie Hall: GET IT. GET. GET. GET. WORK THAT BODY!!! AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I AM SO FUCKING ANGRY!!!!!
Gladhappy is a man possessed, PRIME has never seen him like this before! Drool tumbles down his mouth as he provides the angriest and hardest DOOM STOMPS yet. It’s stuff he never displayed in matches before. Probably never will.
Vickie continues to scream, providing TC with the fuel needed to not take a second off.
Like a woman possessed, as if she was in The Exorcist, Vickie’s head spins around, although her body stays put. She locks eyes with her Amazing Life Partner, Jonathan-Christopher Hall, and insinuates he should join them.
Maybe not should.
He HAS TO join in on the beating!
Vickie Hall: JONATHAN-CHRISTOPHHHHHEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!! WHAT ARE YOU DOOOOIIIIINNNNGGGG!?
Anxiety crosses Jonathan-Christopher. He’s no longer the confident man he was when he first entered the arena.
Jonathan-Christopher Hall: (quietly mouthing to Vickie) Nate was nice…
Vickie immediately crosses her arms. Then she spins her entire body around, stomping towards her man. At first, it looks like JC’s in trouble but once Vickie gets there…
She puts her arm around him. Meanwhile, Hoyt is throwing a temper tantrum to PRIME management at ringside threatening lawsuits.
Vickie points to the direction where Gladhappy keeps stomping the shit out of Colton. Tristan-Crispin leaps on top of Nate and pummels him with punches, all while Nate is trying to cover up… he’s trying to break free…
Vickie Hall: My honey bunch of oats, Nate never liked you. He was the one who said he was better. He told me to pump up his ego tonight. I had no choice, you see…
She brushes a hand across Jonathan-Christopher’s cheek.
Vickie Hall: I know you’re on an incredible roll right now, baby. You are my everything-
Vickie doesn’t even have to finish the sentence. Jonathan-Christopher Hall BOLTS towards the center of the ring and JUST AS Nate Colton fights back and might break free from the beating he’s receiving-
Jonathan-Chirstopher Hall PUNTS Nate square in the side of the head!!
Hoyt is waving his arms frantically trying to calm everybody down to come together and pray with him.
Colton is DOA.
Nick Stuart: Dear god what a shot!
Gladhappy DOOM STOMPS away again with zero quit whatsoever, as Jonathan-Christopher stands over the two of them. At first, he has a look on his face like “what have I done” but then, as Vickie comes up from behind and wraps her arms around him, JC’s facial expression changes.
Hall knows he did the right thing.
Nick Stuart: Nobody is coming to Nate’s aid! Where the hell is security?!
Richard Parker: Can you blame them? Nate deserves EVERYTHING he’s received!
Nick Stuart: Even right now?
Richard Parker: Especially right now!
Gladhappy pulls a broken and unconscious Nate Colton to his feet. TC feeds the limp body to the heels of Vickie Hall as Hoyt considers jumping in to help but is not willing to get his suit messed up.
The crowd jeers wildly as Vickie lets out a wicked cackle. Then she directs Gladhappy to pick up one of the nearby stained glass windows, while she holds the mostly limp Colton up by his face. Hoyt picks up Nate’s fallen microphone and makes a desperate plea for sanity.
Hoyt Williams: ORDER I SAY!! ORDER!!! This is blasphemy!! That window is an original Murano glass from the exquisite taste collection!
But it falls on deaf ears, as the Nuzzle Lord and the Forever Man lift Colton up into the air and-
Vickie Hall: WAIT.
The boys stop what they’re doing to look back at Vickie.
Vickie Hall: I want it done differently.
The most heinous smirk crosses Vickie’s face as Jonathan-Christopher lets go of the glass window. Instead, he takes solid hold of Nate Colton and flips him into his finisher position, Stand By Me. But he hasn’t hit the move yet.
Nick Stuart: Please. Don’t!
Vickie walks to the left side of JCH and Colton while Tristan-Crispin walks to the left side. They hold the window of glass underneath Nate Colton’s face, about halfway down to the mat, where Jonathan-Christopher is going to crash Colton through.
For a split second there, it doesn’t look like Jonathan-Christopher wants to do it-
Hoyt Willaims: Hey no, that’s precious glass! No, sinner! Down! No–awwww…
Vickie Hall: DO ITTTTTTT!!!! Nate Colton should die of gonorrhea and ROT. IN. HELL!!!
The Ace Ventura line isn’t lost on Hoyt, who hears the word HELL and has a mental breakdown.
Jonathan-Christopher says a prayer himself before the priceless glass depiction of Hoyt Williams holding the Universal Title aloft, while floating above the defeated form of Killean Sirrajin… a stunning piece of art and history… is utterly destroyed.
Nick Stuart: Oh my God!
At long last, a pack of Enemigos saunter toward the ring. They don’t seem to be in too much of a hurry, so the LOVE CONVOY have time to get a few more stomps in before leaving the ring.
Nick Stuart: Finally. Vickie and company have absolutely destroyed Nate Colton, folks. Let’s get the medics out here while we…for the love of God, can we cut to something? Anything!?
While PRIME security “secures” the area, two of the Enemigos check on Nathaniel Clay, who is completely fine. Meanwhile, Hoyt Williams walks through the carnage with a tear in his eye to check on the broken glass…ignoring the broken wrestler laying amongst it.
Hoyt Williams: Why can’t I have nice things.
We then cut to the backstage area.
OVERDRIVE THE SURPRISE
Once upon a time, the backstage environment at the average PRIME show was a fairly civil place to be. Sure, you had the occasional Bandit to deal with, but this is a universal truth for most wrestling promotions over the last few years. At worst a lone wrestler wandering the halls might find themself having to contend with one of the roving cultists. MESSIAH. Jacob Mephisto’s family. The other one.
God, there were so many cults. You couldn’t swing a smoke machine without shrouding one in misty secrecy. So spooky.
There was even a stretch where you might bump into a pigeon-man and his friend the literal sorceress. Simpler times, man. Simpler times.
Now those same halls are a veritable wild west of weirdos. A “WWW” if you will. Take, for example, the case of the disco man and his feral cajun, whose capacity for murder now extends beyond roster members. There’s an amorous group of trucking enthusiasts who by all right should be serving time in prison for war crimes. Speaking of crimes, we have Russians now!
These aren’t the groups that Jared Sykes is trying to avoid as he navigates the corridors. Lately he’s been finding himself followed around the arenas PRIME visits by a group of small-town community theater washouts. No, not the Bonafides. They’re currently too busy in another part of the building testing a new device to assist Biff in his day-to-day movements. If you hear screaming echoing through the corridors later, it’s because this contraption – dubbed the Arthrotron 9000 – has locked up while forcing him to do the splits.
Right now he’s actively trying to hide from “Questionable Career Decisions” Troy – so named because there is a specific shade of red in the outfit he wears – by standing still against a wall and hoping that this particular Boy’s vision is based on movement, like a T-Rex that smells faintly of deep dish pizza and desperation.
Miraculously, the ruse seems to work, because all of the Troy Boys are very stupid. And with that, Jared moves away from his perch and continues on his journey, and we can just end this all here because there is nothing else that could possibly go…
That accent. It’s French.
Ah, of course. There’s another group he has to contend with, and he has no one to blame for that but himself. This is what happens when you make snap decisions in the ring.
He stops, sighs, and then expresses a thought in a voice that wants to be a whisper but is still very much out loud.
Jared Sykes: Ah, Christ. Either someone screwed up the date for my birthday or…
He turns. Oh look, it’s FLAMBERGE. Hi, FLAMBERGE!
FLAMBERGE: Or what? You don’t have the person in your life who tells you this enough? No wonder you pal around with the Mustache. He seems to be the bitter egg too.
Picture two hamsters. These aren’t your garden variety pets. These little buggers live inside a man’s head, and are responsible for running the thoughts back and forth between the different parts of his brain. They have stumpy little legs, and have lived very long and troubled lives as hamsters go, but they have a job to do and dammit it’s going to get done. Right now they’re scampering to and fro about whether or not the man whose brain they live in should refute the claim about people who call him sexy, because it could lead to some very awkward conversations at home later. Instead, they offer up the best they have.
Jared Sykes: What?
FLAMBERGE: …the bitter egggggggg.
The Frenchman really leaned into the stank on that delivery, perhaps expecting this to flip the switch in Sykes’s mind. For a beat, both men just stare into each other’s eyes – bewildered, flummoxed, two brains in a Zoom meeting who can’t understand that their own microphones are off because they keep trying to explain to the other one how their microphone is in fact the one that is off. FLAMBO shakes the cobwebs out first and continues. His hand instinctively begins rubbing the back of his head.
FLAMBERGE: Alors, look, uh…what’s Mustache’s deal?
Sykes blinks a few times and shakes his own cobwebs out. The expression on his face is like what a dog might have if someone spent their weekend desperately trying to teach the poor creature the ins and outs of vector calculus. But there are no treats here. No good boy yum-yums to keep Jared focused. As such, those damn hamsters have a new mission, and they may well be dead by the time it’s finished.
FLAMBERGE: Listen, I realize – the you and I, we have never really had “the chat”. I also realize that oui oui, you and I, we will be on the opposite side of things at the Ultraviolence, and that will mean what it will mean – but really, I think you and I could end up getting along here. You, you are the tag team superduperman, non? Go on, you are! And with me, le lézard imparable Intense Champion, I know that I don’t really have to look over my shoulder at the you, since you could never threaten me, so…what I mean is, I think I would trust your word to me, since I know you will never have the power over me to take the advantage, non?
At the sound of “the chat” Jared’s eyebrows all but leap from his face. The brain hamsters – let’s call them Betsy and Gretchen, because why not – slam into each other and grind the whole operation to a halt. Fortunately, that was not an indicator that the French Phenom was about to teach Jared about the birds and the bees. Or maybe unfortunately. I bet that’d be a hoot.
FLAMBERGE: …so, like. Mustache. What’s his deal?
Jared Sykes: Yeah, to be honest I haven’t really talked much with Mustache since…
You have to admit, the name is catchy.
Jared Sykes: Dammit. Hayes is…
Deep breaths, my man. Find your inner peace. Ignore the fact that the kid just insulted you. And, while you’re at it, ignore that your narrator has just switched the way it communicates. Fortunately there’s a breathing technique he’s recently learned that will help with at least one of those things.
Jared Sykes: Look, I’m not qualified to speak for anyone else, so the best I can give you is a guess. But if I was in his position and was looking to reassert myself and try to find my footing again then I’d probably bark real loud about it, too.
Hang on a minute, FLAMBERGE, do you hear that? That sounds an awful lot like…I dunno, a cousin? A classmate? Some internal monologue out there is trying to scrape out their own little space around here, and I for one won’t have it. I think I heard something about “breathing techniques”?? Doesn’t he understand he can make his dog breathe however it wants with all the wiring we have back here? What a doofus, my protagoniste. HEY, DOOFUS. WHAT ARE YOU DOING. HEY. YES, YOU.
“Protagoniste?” What sort of effete snobbery is this? We’ll simply not stand for it. Actually, strike that. We will, because no one has written any chairs into this yet, and dammit if I’m going to be the one to will that shit into existence. Then someone will want to smack someone else with it, and it will devolve into “A Thing.” And no, the floor is not an option. That’s where the dust lives, and it’s way too early in the show to get all messy. Have to keep these clothes clean for a little while, because at the rate ol’ Jarry here is going it’s only a matter of time before someone decides that he needs to do a big dead. Again.
Seriously, man, find a new angle. Angel Quinley has the market cornered on “horrific shit that happens in a wrestling ring” right now, and we’re not about to challenge that.
Jared Sykes: Doesn’t mean I think it’s the right choice though.
Oh sure, just casually ignore the fact you did the same goddamn thing with the Red Army a few months ago. Great, now we have to pretend to not be hypocrites.
Do you see the shit I have to put up with?
Jared Sykes: But here we are. Me, who’s apparently only really good when he’s got someone in his corner, and you… The dude I sent sailing at Culture Shock.
You’re telling me. I swear, it’s like my dog is trying to figure out how to sabotage this good thing we have going…something about “ohhhhhhhh letters from mama” or some crap. I’m going to have to rattle this French boy around somehow here in a minute. You’ve gotta shake ‘em every now and then, like an Etch-a-Sketch. You don’t want your dog to make synapse connections that you aren’t choosing.
FLAMBERGE: Yes, well. Every singles neck you’ve collected, I’ve collected too, then add another seven-to-twelve. Sail me away, cowboy sailor man, I’ll collect your neck next because the top rope can’t save you from me…or…you could be cool, and just, like. Tell Mustache I say “what’s up”. And tell him to unclench the haunches. It spoils everything.
Oh no, not the neck, that’s where your head lives! And you need that. I’m pretty sure you’d actually die for real without it. Plus, all the big thinking goes on there.
Okay, so that last one was a stretch. But it is also where your tear ducts live, and, well… you know. Don’t make me say it. Just embrace that the meme is real and everyone will be happier for it.
Jared Sykes: I feel like there’s a lot to unpack here.
Hey, while we’re on the subject of things that happen in this dude’s head, one time I convinced him that there was a trans-dimensional funk band that lived in his refrigerator. Man, you should have seen the look on people’s faces when he tried to explain it. Everyone thought he was on drugs. Like they thought he was on all the drugs. But nope, just had to compensate for a very boring Saturday.
STOP THINKING ABOUT HAUNCHES! Say something, anything. Literally ANYTHING.
Jared Sykes: Just remember, you want to collect mine? First you’ve got to take your own back.
Dammit, Jared, that wasn’t as cool as you thought it sounded.
Yeah, Doofus, way to steer your dog to biff that one. Or, at least, that’s what I’m telling FLAMBO. It was pretty cool TBH. Just, that’s a trade secret. You don’t get to tap into mine just like I don’t get to tap into yours. Union contracts. We lie when we have to and when it furthers the directive. You know this, of course. You use that trick all the time. Ugh…haunches, though. That’s like a dog thing. I need to figure out how to turn THAT switch off.
I don’t know why but just to add to whatever mess is happening, Cecilworth Farthington, PRIME’s Finest Five Star Champion (and least finest if you think about it) is rounding the corner in the middle of this conversation wearing a party hat, kazoo in his mouth. He looks at the scene before him and then looks down at his “Sorry About Your Shitty Title Loss and Then That Whole Tag Team Thing” cake in his hand. Cecilworth’s kazoo lets out a sad little toot as he beholds the situation he has walked in to.
Cecilworth Farthington: Guys, I have a cake for Joe and I need to give Joe the cake but I can’t give the cake to Joe while Jared is in the way of the Joe path.
Cecilworth finally actually notices that Sykes is here and is a physical object rather than a concept like, I dunno, concentric circles.
Cecilworth Farthington: Oh hi Jared, did Flambo already ask what the deal is with your angry friend? He is very angry with us for winning matches in a fair manner and I don’t get that. I mean getting mad at the people using families for kindling or I dunno, shock collar murders, those seem like things to be mad at. We’re just lil fellas having a good time.
Sid Phillips: Hey.
Cecilworth Farthington: Hi Sid, I have a cake.
Cecilworth shows Sid the cake.
Sid Phillips: Sweet. I love cake. Cake’s the best, next to… you know…
Powerbomb powerbomb powerbomb POWERBOMB powerbombington.
Sid Phillips: The thing.
FLAMBERGE was so absorbed with Sykes’s brutally killer one-liner that he’s only now registered the presence of Cecilworth and Sid. After a quick longing glance at Sid’s flowing locks, FLAMBO locks eyes with The Man Who Insists On Calling Him Flambo No Caps Lock Because Scottishisms Or Whatever, taps his nose, and points down A hall in A direction. He then walks off in that direction with no further dismount, apparently expecting someone to follow. Oh, and his narrator’s been KO’d by one of them powerbombs for those keeping score at home, Lord bless you.
Cecilworth Farthington: FLAMBO!
Now we have to wonder if Cecilworth was yelling or saying his name correctly this time. Will we ever know? Hard to say. He looks back down at the cake.
Cecilworth Farthington: I need to give Joe a cake.
He walks off in a direction, maybe north?
Sid Phillips: Whoops, gotta go. Later.
Powerbomb powerbombing powerbomb. South powerbomb.
Jared Sykes: But… the haunches.
My guy, you’ve got to cool it with this. Not everything can be about butts or butt-adjacent subject matter. I know you’re very sensitive about your own, and it’s kind of become a thing, but…
Where the hell did everyone go?
Well this is awkward. I think I was starting to like some of those guys. Like we vibe on a similar wavelength, you know? I know there was that whole incident with them beating the hell out of your friend who wears the sex mask, but like…
I SAID STOP THINKING ABOUT ASSES, GODDAMMIT!
SCOTT HUNTER VS. ARTHUR PLEASANT
We are now back at ringside.
“Slum Planet” by 3TEETH and Mick Gordon hits the speakers and a chorus of boos immediately follows.
Two words, followed by two letters, written in signature style, appear on PRIMEview with a bleeding effect; this is created by a machete that slices through the bottom of the screen with a violent effect. Arthur Pleasant, meanwhile, has already begun making his way out from behind the curtains.
Vince Howard: The following contest is scheduled for one fall! Introducing first… from Under The Midnight Sun… weighing in at 225 lbs… he is PRIME’s WORST NIGHTMARE… ARTHURRRRRRR… PLLLEEEAAASAAAAAAAAAAAAANT!!!
Nick Stuart: This guy still gives me the creeps, partner.
Richard Parker: You don’t say! What is it about him, do you think?
Nick Stuart and Richard Parker simultaneously: The teeth!
Nick Stuart: Yeah, absolutely, it’s the teeth. Those suckers are sharp!
From nowhere, the opening guitar licks to “Burning Heart” kick in while scenes from Rocky IV flash on the screen. Scott Hunter steps out onto the stage, chest out, chin up, then stops in a heroic fists-on-hips pose.
Vince Howard: And his opponent! Making his way out to the ring, from Miami, Florida… weighing in at 245lbs… he is.. SCOTT… HUUUUUUUNTEEERRR!!!
Looking out into the crowd, the newcomer nods. You’d think after a few weeks, the brand recognition would be a little stronger, and I guess you could say it is – but the fan response is still decidedly tepid as they figure out what to do with this brash kid in blue and yellow. After a moment of soaking in the crowd’s lukewarm reaction, he mouths “thank you, thank you” and starts walking to the ring.
Nick Stuart: Here’s a young man really looking to find some direction here in PRIME.
Richard Parker: I’ve got some BIG NEWS to share about Scott Hunter, partner. It changed everything I thought I knew about him.
Nick Stuart: Care to share?
Richard Parker: In due time, Nicky! In due time.
Referee Elvis Nixon checks on both wrestlers in their respective corners and signals for the bell!
Nick Stuart: Fair enough, here we go!
Arthur Pleasant wastes no time and CHARGES forward to deliver a Yakuza Kick off the bat, but Scott Hunter is able to duck and turn at the last moment! Pleasant spins around and delivers a pair of Muay Thai kicks to his opponent – Hunter realizes that the only way to stop this flurry of offense is to Do A Move and so he locks Pleasant up in a collar-and-elbow. Using his size advantage, he’s able to muscle Pleasant into the corner and throw a few jabs that connect.
Seeing success with his jabs, Hunter decides to really wind up and put some extra mustard on this one, windmilling his arm as if it will build more power, before launching a BIG right cross – that Pleasant ducks! The momentum from the hellacious swing sends Hunter into the corner, and without wasting a beat, Arthur throws some stiff elbows into Hunter’s ribs before reaching down to grab a hold of Hunter’s ankle. He lifts up and Hunter now hops on one foot for a moment until Pleasant sends Hunter crashing to the mat with a dragon screw leg whip!
Nick Stuart: I have to say, partner – The Provocateur looks like he means business tonight!
Richard Parker: Targeting the legs is smart, and now I’ll satisfy your curiosity from before, Nicky – we talked about it during his debut match, and I was skeptical before, but at this time I can NOW CONFIRM! I have it on good authority that Scott Hunter indeed invented the Figure Four Leglock. Arthur Pleasant is smart to try to take away this invention.
Nick Stuart: “On good authority”? Really?
Richard Parker: …a gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell, partner.
Pleasant measures his opponent before launching in to grab a side headlock. Hunter waves his arms in an exaggerated fashion, as if he were In Great Peril, before collecting himself and throwing a very pointed elbow into Pleasant’s gut! Another! A third breaks the hold and gives Hunter the opportunity to shove Wrestling’s Worst Nightmare into the ropes. Pleasant’s momentum sends him off the ropes and back to the center of the ring, where Hunter takes him down with a BIG clothesline!
Hunter goes for the cover!
Hunter puts his hands on his hips, expressing displeasure that one very well executed clothesline was not in fact enough to win the day.
Both men are able to get to their feet after the failed pin and gain some space, slowing things down a bit. Hunter holds up a hand offering a test of strength – Pleasant looks at it, sneers, and run his tongue over the front of his extensive dental work. Hunter cautiously steps forward in anticipation of his challenge being accepted – Pleasant waves a hand vaguely in the direction of Hunter’s, the crowd slowly growing in volume as the men step closer and closer, until –
Pleasant slaps Hunter in the face!
Hunter doesn’t know what to do for a second, almost crestfallen knowing that he won’t get to test his strength tonight. Then, he remembers that slaps don’t just hurt, they’re insults, and that you’re supposed to be mad when you’re insulted, probably. His face turns full scowl and he bares his own teeth at AP!
Baring teeth is a sign of aggression in many species, and for Arthur Pleasant, this would appear to hold especially true…he launches himself on top of Scott Hunter and begins to bite into Hunter’s scalp! Hunter thrashes and beats Pleasant’s back to try to get him off, but Pleasant won’t stop! Referee Elvis Nixon has to go deep into the five count before Pleasant finally frees his foe! Hunter immediately taps a few fingers to the top of his head – red.
Nick Stuart: Good lord, Arthur Pleasant just bit a man’s head open!
Richard Parker: The inventor of the figure four is on his way to a Crimson Mask!
Nixon admonishes Pleasant and our audio can pick up “NO TEETH! NO TEETH!”.
If Hunter was mad before about getting slapped, he’s certifiably PEE OH’D (no swearing) about the location of some of his blood – Nixon is barely finished getting out of Pleasant’s face when Hunter leaps far across the ring and CRUSHES Pleasant with a flying elbow smash! Pleasant goes down, and Hunter throws some high-swinging elbows into Pleasant’s head! Satisfied that his opponent will perhaps be down on the ground longer than one second, his eyes dart to the nearest corner of the ring. With a spring in his step, he deftly hops to the top rope, turns, and measures his man. He slowly points two fingers high in the air! Some of the crowd rises to their feet! He leaps…
DIVING ELBOW DROP!
Nick Stuart: ARTHUR PLEASANT ROLLED OUT OF THE WAY!
Scott Hunter gets to his feet surprisingly quickly for a man who just crashed and burned on a failed top rope maneuver – takes two steps – and faceplants in the middle of the ring.
Pleasant is able to rise to his feet and stalk over to his downed opponent. He throws a few sharp stomps into the back of both of Hunter’s legs, and then he throws Hunter’s right leg hard into the mat with another dragonscrew leg whip, and another.
Richard Parker: Hunter couldn’t get his legs underneath his body earlier, and now Pleasant’s targeting those same legs he worked on earlier…what a time to be alive, partner! We live in a world where Arthur Pleasant has a strategy!
Arthur regains control of Hunter’s right leg, positions himself, and drops into the mat, wrenching Hunter’s whole leg into a kneebar submission! Scott Hunter’s eyes go wide with pain, and the trickle of red from earlier has started to trickle a bit harder down his forehead.
Referee Elvis Nixon checks on Hunter, who shakes his head in DEFIANCE! He slams a fist to the mat and yells out, summoning as much strength as he can to try and drag his body towards the ropes and out of this predicament. Pleasant, realizing that with his body in its current position that he won’t be able to stop this momentum towards the ropes, does what any rational man would do and BITES SCOTT HUNTER’S CALF!! Hunter gets to the ropes and howls in pain! Nixon doesn’t let these shenanigans last long at all as he physically intervenes between the two competitors!
Hunter uses the ropes to get vertical as Nixon adamantly insists “NO TEEFERS, I SAID NO TEEFERS” as Arthur snarls a stream of curses in response.
Nick Stuart: That’s twice that Scott Hunter’s been bitten tonight!
Richard Parker: I wonder how much they train you for biting in wrestling school these days. I’m guessing ZERO!
Nick Stuart: Hard to deny the effectiveness of Arthur Pleasant’s battle plan tonight. Can Scott Hunter turn the tide?
Pleasant has a ravenous look on his face as he finally waves off Nixon and resumes stalking his opponent. Scott Hunter is shaky on his legs, but he’s close to vertical – Pleasant comes flying in – Hunter lifts his arm in desperation – CLOTHESLINE TO PLEASANT! Hunter sees his moment and the adrenaline is pumping! He eggs Pleasant on to get up – HUNTER DROPS HIM WITH A QUICK LARIAT! He’s a house of fire now! He beckons Pleasant to get up for a third time, winding up his right arm, waiting for his moment – HUGE OLD SCHOOL PUNCH RIGHT TO THE SCHNOZZ! Pleasant drops like a sack of potatoes! The cover by Hunter!
Nick Stuart: Pleasant has reversed the stack! He’s got Hunter’s shoulders down!
Richard Parker: Hunter’s reversed it! High stack!
Pleasant shoots his lower body forward and sprawls over Hunter’s chest!
Hunter kicks out with force! Arthur scrambles forward and reaches around Hunter’s head and neck, looking for a choke!
Nick Stuart: He’s looking to end it now! Arthur Pleasant is looking for the move he calls Sleep Paralysis!
Hunter frantically scrambles, trying everything he can to escape the D’Arce Choke! A flailing elbow catches Pleasant in the nose and he’s able to gain some space before the hold is truly locked in. Seeing the opportunity slipping away, Hunter decides now is the time to break out the biggest weapon in his arsenal, hobbling over to Pleasant and gaining double leg control. He looks out to the crowd, making sure as many eyes as possible are upon him as he demonstrates his masterwork invention. He spins, crosses Pleasant’s far leg across his near kneecap, lifts his leg, and falls to the mat!
Richard Parker: THE FIGURE FOUR LEGLOCK! Surely the most inventive move in professional wrestling today!
Nick Stuart: You’re kidding me, right??
Richard Parker: I told you before, Nicky – I have my sources, and they certainly tell me things!
Pleasant yelps out in pain as Elvis Nixon checks for the submission. And then, it’s subtle, but it’s unmistakable…Scott Hunter is wincing in pain, too. All the damage Arthur Pleasant delivered to Hunter’s legs is coming back to haunt the young man from Miami.
Pleasant sees it. And he’s rejuvenated by it.
He throws a series of closed fists into Hunter’s legs – normally, perhaps an ineffective method of getting out of this hold, but it seems to be working now, particularly as Pleasant punches around the area he chomped earlier. Hunter’s clearly doing everything he can to hold onto his signature finisher…only to realize, perhaps too late, that it may have been a mistake to go for this move at this time.
Pleasant’s out of the hold! His closed fists to the legs turn into closed fists to the face! Hunter covers up, and Pleasant is on top of Hunter’s back! Soon, Arthur’s arm is wrapped tightly around Hunter’s neck from behind! He leans back, and rolls with the hold!
Nick Stuart: It’s the Sleep Paralysis! Arthur Pleasant has it locked in!
Hunter flails one more time to no avail, though he doesn’t give up right away. His face is red in two ways – the blood dripping from the head bite is a much brighter hue than the flush of his face from being choked the hell out. Soon, his arms start to go limp, and he faintly taps the mat.
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: Here is your winner, by submission…THE PROVOCATEUR! ARTHURRRRRR PLEASANT!
Boos rain down throughout the arena as Slum Planet blares through the speakers. Pleasant is VERY fired up about his win and curses up and down the dictionary while Elvis Nixon raises his arm.
Nick Stuart: Close fight tonight between these two, but in the end, it was a mistake for Scott Hunter to go for the Figure Four after all the damage he took to his legs.
Richard Parker: If that toothy grin figures out a battle plan like that for every opponent from now on, we could see him take a big bite out of the rankings!
Nick Stuart: …har har, partner. Stay tuned, we’ll be back after we pay a few bills!
We cut to commercial.
COMMERCIAL: ULTRAVIOLENCE NIGHT ONE MAIN EVENTS
After a commercial break, three rousing matches, and a very HYFR start to ReV 35, we visit a quiet place. Not a Blunt-and-Krasinski Quiet Place, but a quieter, more sober corner of Little Caesars Arena.
The camera finds a particularly drab, gray section of the venue, where a man grieves. That man?
He’s in a folding chair, slumped over like he’s reading for the part of Quasimodo. He keeps exhaling loudly. His athleisure is all black, unlike the slate gray and charcoal looks of recent shows. He seems to have designed the spatial and emotional aesthetic of this moment from a sad boy Pinterest board.
Chandler Tsonda: (muttering to himself) No match, no Intense Title, no taking out my angst by pulverizing Gamble. This sucks the fucks, man.
A sound from stage right. A glimmer of hope? A friend and kind soul to console the Model Citizen after last week’s close-but-no-cigar main event?
The camera doesn’t show us, but Tsonda turns in the direction of the sound.
Chandler Tsonda: Don’t bother, pal. I’m not in the mood for levity.
Now the camera pans right, and we spy the target of Tsonda’s comments. The person masks their emotion completely.
With a luchador mask.
It’s Enemigo XI. He’s holding a bunch of extra turnbuckle covers. If you have to ask why, then it’s above your pay grade.
Chandler Tsonda: No, I’m serious. I don’t want to be cheered up, Eleven.
Enemigo XI: …
Chandler Tsonda: Oh, you know why I’m wearing black.
Enemigo XI: …
Chandler Tsonda: (gestures to his joggers) These are my GRIEF Lulu’s, dude. I’m in mourning. I’m in a state of disre-goddamn-pair. The Triple Crown was right in my hands! The Streak vanquished! FLAMBERGE extinguished! Peace reigning across the kingdom, platinum trophy for completing every PRIME accomplishment, my enemies accidentally closing browser windows with 100 tabs open. And I fucked it.
Enemigo XI: (points to Tsonda)
Chandler Tsonda: No, you’re right. I’m mostly just mad at myself.
Enemigo XI: …
Chandler Tsonda: Get over it? Easier said than done. What do you do when you fall flat on your face in a big moment?
Enemigo XI: …
Chandler Tsonda: Ain’t that the truth, man. I can’t drink mezcal anymore, though. I guess I’ll just sit here and twiddle my thumbs until Ultraviolence? Wrestling Mom said Gamble and I couldn’t throw hands until the supershow.
Enemigo XI: (tilts head quizzically)
Chandler Tsonda: Nah, c’mon.
Enemigo XI: (does a weird thing with his arms)
Chandler Tsonda: I mean, I could, but…nah, that won’t cheer me up. It’s just not my style.
Enemigo XI: (turns to leave)
Chandler Tsonda: Wait wait wait!
The luchador pauses, and turns back over his shoulder.
Chandler Tsonda: You really think that will help?
Enemigo XI: (drops turnbuckle covers, clasps his two hands together)
Chandler Tsonda: In another life, you could’ve been a prophet, my dude. Because I can’t say I see the vision, but I’ll give it a shot. And listen, man, nobody gets me like you do.
Enemigo XI: (touches his chest)
Chandler Tsonda: I love you too, pal. (gets up out of the chair) Hey, stay out of trouble, big dog.
The Model Citizen chuckles to himself as he walks off in search of…honestly not sure.
Enemigo XI looks directly at camera, shrugs a big cartoon shrug, picks up his turnbuckle covers, and exits in the opposite direction.
We flee the scene to another backstage area.
We see Matt Mills, the ever-enthusiastic PRIME interviewer, standing in one of the dimly lit corridors. The camera follows him as he spots Adam Ellis and Ginny Van Lear approaching, hand in hand. As they step into the shot, Matt’s cheeriness contrasts with the serious expressions on Adam and Ginny’s faces.
Matt Mills: Matt Mills here with Adam Ellis. (He gestures towards Adam.) Adam, tough loss two weeks ago to Tony Gamble.
Adam nods, his jaw set firmly as he recalls the match. The echoes of the roaring crowd from that night still reverberate in his ears. He takes a deep breath before speaking.
Adam Ellis: Yep. Could have won. Should have won. But I didn’t. Tony got one over on me. I’ll take the loss like a man and get back to work. Every match is a learning experience. The next time I step into the ring with Gamble, the result will be much different.
Ginny, her red hair vibrant under the overhead lights, also nods as she looks up at her husband and smiles. Her green eyes hold a fierce determination that seems to fuel Adam’s resolve even further.
Matt Mills: Was the Savannah Scandal stuff any distraction?
The mention of Savannah Scandal causes Ginny’s smile to fade, replaced by a scowl. Adam shakes his head no, his focus unwavering.
Adam Ellis: No. Not at-
Before he can finish, Ginny interrupts, her Appalachian accent sharp.
Ginny Van Lear: Jeepers Creepers! Savannah Scandal can go stick it where th’ sun don’t shine. Adam Ellis ain’t got no time to worry about some suckin’ ol’ sow who’s rotten to the core.
Matt raises an eyebrow, taken aback by her outburst. Adam sighs but remains composed.
Adam Ellis: The answer’s still no. Savannah Scandal has nothing to do with me losing the match.
Ginny crosses her arms, her gaze fiery as she adds her final thoughts.
Ginny Van Lear: THAT JEZEBEL WILL REAP WHAT SHE SOWS!
Shifting the conversation…
Matt Mills: I’d like to bring up High Octane Wrestling’s John Sektor and what he said in a recent interview.
Mills pulls out a sheet of paper with a long quote typed on it.
Matt Mills (reading the quote): Adam Ellis! Mi joven aprendiz! Tonight you are competing for a championship, (forgive me I didnt care to remember the name of it), against a man who the wrestling world doesnt care to remember, in a company that arguably isnt even second best to the greatest wrestling promotion of all time, HOW.
Adam listens intently to the clip, his expression thoughtful.
Matt Mills (continued): I am writing to wish you Good Luck! As your former mentor and trainer I would ask you to remember that you are a reflection of ME. You were trained by one of the greatest champions of all time and if you’ve been paying attention you will have noticed that I am a champion once again. So don’t let me down and don’t embarrass me.
Mills stares intently at Adam, awaiting his response. After reflecting for a moment, Adam finally replies.
Adam Ellis: Sure, John Sektor played an important part in my wrestling development. But… it was Ray McAvay and Joe Bergman who assembled the foundation of knowledge upon which I now stand. Missouri Valley Wrestling gave me a platform to do something I love and through thick and thin, Ray and Joe have stood by me every step of the way through the good times and bad. Now Charlie Blackwell, who came in as a wildcard, introduced to me new ideas and techniques that have added an extra layer to my skill set. I will say they’ve all had an important part of pushing me to reach my potential.
Adam raises his chin and looks Matt in the eyes with unwavering determination.
Adam Ellis: I am deeply humbled to have been mentored and guided by these incredible men. Without their teachings, I wouldn’t be here standing before you today.
Matt Mills: Thank you Adam and Ginny for their time. Let’s go back to ringside for our next match.
CANCER JILES VS. KENNY FREEMAN
We cut back to the arena, where we see both Nick Stuart and Richard Parker sitting at the announce table. The PA system is playing Monster Siren’s “Real Me” for a short while before Coral Avalon takes a seat next to Stuart.
Nick Stuart: Well, folks, before we get to our next match it seems we have a guest joining us at the announce table.
Richard Parker: Yay.
Once Avalon finishes adjusting his headset, he greets the commentary team.
Coral Avalon: Gentlemen. Hey. Real quick. I’m not trying to steal your thunder. For whatever reason, Jiles invited me here, so… might as well see him wrestle up close and personal instead of getting another rental car totaled.
Richard Parker: I wouldn’t accept that guy’s invitations. Not even if it were a fountain of youth party. Just saying.
Coral Avalon: Spoken like a man who survived an eggsassination attempt.
Richard Parker: Shut up. God.
A trap remix of the Soviet Union national anthem plays over throughout the arena as Kenny Freeman steps out onto the stage, the Bang! All Day Championship around his waist as he stands next to Randall Schwartz…but notably, not Ivan Stanislav. It’s unclear why the Russian Bear is not out here, but for now we focus on the Masters of the Moscowverse soaking in jeers from the crowd…before Randall blindsides Kenny with a forearm to the back!
Nick Stuart: Wait, what in the world is going on!?
Richard Parker: I can’t believe it! The Masters explode before our very eyes!
The crowd is stunned by this turn of events as Randall calls for someone to come out…a request that is eventually obliged by someone in a referee’s shirt! Someone oddly familiar, despite being someone we’ve never seen bef–wait a minute…
Nick Stuart: That’s…that’s another Kenny!
Richard Parker: The Council has betrayed Freeman here tonight, Nick!
Coral Avalon: The what?
The crowd is beside themselves — well, the ones who didn’t go to the bathroom after realizing Jiles would be coming out second — as they quickly realize just what’s going on…because Randall makes the cover, and Refer-Freeman makes the count!
Richard Parker: Is this really happening?
The Refer-Freeman raises Randall’s arm in victory to a wave of boos from the crowd, now fully aware of the ruse that’s just taken place as Randall takes the championship away from Kenny…and proceeds to hightail it out of sight to the back!
Nick Stuart: Oh, I…I think I understand what’s happened now.
Coral Avalon: I’m glad one of us does. I’m still bewildered.
Richard Parker: It’s brilliant, Nick! There was chatter about Kenny’s match against Jiles being for the Bang! All Day Championship…but that can’t happen if the champion isn’t in the building! Good on you, Masters, I’d hate to see Jiles hold another title around here!
Kenny pops up and looks towards the entrance ramp bewildered. He can be seen mouthing the words “what just happened?” What he cannot be seen doing is looking towards the ring, and that feels like a mistake. Another thing he doesn’t realize is that his little escapade has now cut into you know who’s entrance time. So, for the second time tonight, Kenny is blindsided from behind. Only, the man blindsiding him isn’t someone that had been a stalwart ally of his since day one.
No, the man blindsiding him is a crumb.
The king of those.
Nick Stuart: From behind! Cancer Jiles isn’t waiting for this match to start!
Coral Avalon: Of course he isn’t.
Jiles whips Freeman into the barricade, and then grabs him by the wrist and does it to the barricade on the opposite side. Upon impact, Jiles starts hammering away at Freeman. First, it’s with fists, and when Freeman slumps down from the blows, he starts adding boots to the mix.
Freeman is forced to crawl away, and Jiles stalks after him with all of the urgency of a man looking to pick up his morning mail. Then, as Freeman makes it to the ring and looks like he might get inside in order to save himself, the urgency upgrades to a man looking to pick up his morning mail while carrying a chainsaw and going after a trespasser.
Cancer Jiles: Oh no, you don’t, you fucking crumb!
Coral Avalon: Keeping it classy.
Jiles grabs Freeman from behind, and instead of throwing him into the ring at the behest of referee Jimmy Turnbull, he flings K-Free into the steel stairs!
Freeman hits the stairs with his back, and writhes in pain on the ground. Jiles is expressionless as he walks over to Freeman and drags him to his feet. After pulling him around the stairs that’d been dislodged from their position from the impact of Freeman’s body, he whips K-Free into the guardrail with significant force.
Nick Stuart: This match hasn’t even started yet, and Jiles is taking it right to Kenny Freeman!
Richard Parker: Typical. Just typical.
Jiles walks up to Kenny, and with a glance, locks eyes with Coral Avalon seated at the commentary desk. He drags Kenny back up to his feet.
Nick Stuart: He’s coming this way!
Richard Parker: Oh no, not again!
Nick and Richard both stand up and back away from the table, but Avalon makes a point to not move an inch from his seat.
Then Jiles slams Freeman’s face into the commentary table, sending some of the things on top of it flying, and he does it without even breaking eye contact with Avalon.
Cancer Jiles: Apologize to him, Coral.
He pulls Freeman upright again, and then slams his face down on the table again.
Cancer Jiles: APOLOGIZE!
Cancer Jiles: TO!
Cancer Jiles: HIM!
He lets Freeman go, who crumples to the ground in a daze. Jiles, though concealed behind a tinted lens, never stops staring Avalon down the entire time, and Avalon stares right back at him. When Avalon slowly rises from his seat, that’s when Jiles decides that he has better things to do. He takes his shades off, tosses them to Coral, pulls Freeman back to his feet and then rolls him back into the ring.
Jiles turns back to Avalon, locking his now exposed eyes back on the Crownless King. For his part, Avalon never moves from his position.
Cancer Jiles: I’ll be right back for them.
Finally, Jiles rolls into the ring, and the match can actually begin.
Kenny Freeman is barely able to get to a corner before Jiles is on him like eggs on toast, stomping away at his head. Jimmy Turnbull needs to make a five count to make Jiles even consider stopping, and when Jiles does stop at the count of four and a half, it’s only to turn to Turnbull and give him the finger before stomping away again.
Nick Stuart: Jiles is out here like a man possessed tonight!
Richard Parker: Possessed by an egg devil, you mean.
Coral Avalon: Don’t you mean a deviled egg?
Richard Parker: …No. Shut up. I hate you. I hate you both.
Another five count, and Jiles breaks at four and a half again. He pulls Freeman up to his feet and gets his hooks in for a vertical suplex. He plants half of the Masters of the Moscowverse – provided that they’re still together after what happened earlier – and goes for the cover.
It’s only a two count before Freeman gets his shoulder up, so Jiles stands up and glares at Jimmy Turnbull, as though offended by the cadence of his count. Jiles pulls Freeman up again, and lands a second vertical suplex. Float over, into the cover.
It’s yet another two count, though, and now Jiles is heated. He gets right in Turnbull’s face and backs him all the way into the corner, angrily informing him the “proper” cadence for counting to three.
Richard Parker: Look, no referee in the world is going to alter their count just for Cancer Jiles. Now, if it were Prop– Pepp– …Propper-chick? Uh, if it were Comrade Ivan? Forget about it. The referee will just slap the hand once and say it’s a three count, because it’s what he deserves!
Nick Stuart: …I have questions about your logic. So many questions.
Finally, Jiles finishes arguing with the referee and pulls Freeman up for a third suplex. Only, this time, Freeman slips out of the move in the middle of it and shifts his weight until he lands in a stunner!
Jiles is rocked, stumbling backwards while clutching his jaw. His back hits the ropes, and he needs some time to shake the cobwebs.
Freeman recovers long enough to run at him and land a shotgun dropkick, sending Jiles through the ropes and to the floor.
Coral Avalon: I know we all treat Kenny Freeman like he’s a goof, and maybe rightfully so. Let’s not forget that when you get him in the ring, he’s got plenty of skills. You can’t underestimate him.
Jiles stands up in a daze on the floor just in time to see Freeman running at him at lightning speed. A tope suicida catches the former Universal champion with a shoulder to the jaw, sending him barrelling into the barricade.
Nick Stuart: Tope suicida from Freeman, and he’s battling back against the COOLympian here!
Richard Parker: Go, Comrade!
Freeman grabs Jiles by the head and rolls him back into the ring. Jiles is in a daze and spins around in a circle, practically wobbling as he does so. When he finally turns to face Freeman setting himself on the apron, he takes a springboard dropkick to the face! Freeman scrambles on top of Jiles, looking for the win.
Nick Stuart: Kenny Freeman is showing some fire against maybe his most dangerous opponent to date here!
Coral Avalon: He needs it.
Freeman grasps Jiles’ wrist, and looks to lock in the Freeman Special that’d served him well so far in PRIME. Instead, Jiles quickly executes the Greco-Roman thumb in the eye (very technical technique) to make Freeman back off from the idea. Then he grabs a handful of his tights and pulls Freeman into the corner, smashing his face against the second turnbuckle with a thud.
Coral Avalon: While I’m here, I might as well make this clear to you two and everyone watching that I have no intention of joining the Bandits. Zero.
Richard Parker: That is, easily, the smartest thing you have ever said. By an order of magnitude. You’ve hit your zenith. You also hit your nadir with the “deviled eggs” bit. Really, a commentary of two halves.
Nick Stuart: Richard.
Coral Avalon: No, no. Let him cook. What else do you have?
Richard Parker: Uh, your forehead is big.
Coral Avalon: Oh. You wound me!
Richard Parker: Yeah! I bet I do! No one can handle my cutting wit!
Meanwhile, in the ring and away from whatever nonsense is going over at the commentary table, Jiles is pulling Freeman back into the center of the ring, makes a cover, and grabs a handful of tights because why not?
Jiles is exasperated at the two count. One could say he’s eggsasperated. He takes the time to give a nasty glance over at Avalon, who merely stares back. Jiles picks Freeman up and pokes him in the eyes again. Just to let him know. He ignores Turnbull’s admonishment as he grabs Freeman and pulls him to the corner. He lifts Freeman up to a seated position on the top rope, and climbs up to join him. A front facelock heralds the superplex, but Freeman fights back, battering the Curtain Jerk with shots to the ribs. This doubles over Jiles, and allows Freeman to come over the top attempting a sunset powerbomb!
But Jiles hangs on.
Freeman tries to force the issue, but Jiles’ grip is too strong. He rears back and aims a punch downward at Freeman’s face, but ends up hitting the turnbuckle when Freeman ducks away. As Jiles holds his hand in pain, Freeman lands the powerbomb!
Nick Stuart: FREEMAN LANDS THE SUNSET BOMB!
Freeman is dazed in that way you might be when you’ve done a move you seldomly get to execute, but he soon leaps on top of Jiles for the cover.
Freeman looks up at the referee, wanting to know if it’d been three. It hadn’t been. It’d take more than that to kill this cockroach. Running out of options, Freeman runs into the ropes and comes back with a dance straight out of Fortnite. Pick your poison. Then he drops the leg on Jiles…
…and he’s the one hurt.
Because he misses.
Nick Stuart: Nobody home on the Follow the Freeman!
Coral Avalon: …Why does he need to do a dance?
Richard Parker: There’s a lot of questions to be asked, and that’s certainly one of them.
Jiles gets to his feet, and pulls Freeman up by fish hooking his face. Referee Turnbull hates this, and starts another count, but Jiles uses the fishhook to position Freeman for a DDT. Instead, Freeman pushes Jiles into the ropes in desperation to avoid getting dumped on his head. Jiles clings to the front facelock, and forces Jimmy Turnbull to try and break the hold himself, getting between the two wrestlers.
So, a lot happened at once there, and all of it’s perpetrated by King Crumb. First, Jiles lets go of the front facelock. Second, Jiles pushes Turnbull aside like he’s parting the Red Sea, conveniently keeping his back to the action. And third, and most importantly, is the kick in the nuts so ferocious that Kenny Freeman is elevated almost a foot off the ground from the impact. Like, holy shit, that man has a family! Or he was going to. Probably not now.
Richard Parker: Oh, COME ON!
Nick Stuart: A vicious low blow from Jiles!
Coral Avalon can be heard sighing on commentary.
Miraculously, Kenny is somehow still on his feet, but he’s definitely not walking straight.
Jiles has a pitiless smirk on his face. For him, this isn’t about Kenny Freeman. Not really. This is about the man sitting at commentary.
Jiles doesn’t even hesitate.
Nick Stuart: TERMINAL CANCER!
Richard Parker: God dammit.
Coral Avalon: Language.
Richard Parker: Go fu–
Strangely enough, Richard’s audio goes out just as he starts to say something. Weird.
Anyway, Jiles falls down on top of Freeman after landing his jaw-jacking superkick.
DING DING DING
There’s a drought of happy people in Little Caesars Arena, a figurative desert of sadness as “I Am The Cool” fills the PA system. Jiles raises his arms in triumph before he rolls off of Freeman’s prone body. He stares down at him even as Jimmy Turnbull raises his arm in victory. It doesn’t take long before Jiles is kicking Freeman out of the ring, who rolls under the bottom rope under threat of salty shoes.
Coral Avalon: Gentlemen, if you’ll excuse me.
Coral stands up from the commentary table and enters the ring with a microphone in his hand. He does not go in between the two ropes Jiles is kindly holding open for him.
Richard Parker: I can’t wait to see the look on Jiles’ face after Coral tells him no.
Nick Stuart: Again.
The two veterans of the ring now occupy the inside of it. Kenny is back at Moscow Park and is once again a free man.
Coral Avalon: Well, I guess you—
The Maestro of COOL reaches out and quickly swipes the mic out of Coral’s hand.
Cancer Jiles: So what’s it going to be, Coral? Are you ready to be forgiven? Are you ready to free yourself from my yolky pursuit? Are you ready to accept the challenge and dare to walk mongst the Bandits?
The PRIMEates in attendance start to chant.
The COOLYMPIAN does not find thier reaction too amusing; which causes him to lash out and implore them to shut up. During Jiles’ tantrum, Coral reaches out and swipes the microphone out Jiles’ hand which causes everything to come to an abrupt halt.
Richard Parker: This is it! Here it comes! Heartbreak in three, two, one….
Coral raises the microphone to his lips, a wide smile covering his face. He stares into Jiles’ soul, or whatever is in place of his soul, and then takes one last look out at the vast but not so sold out audience.
Coral Avalon: I’m going to se–
Poor guy. Never even saw it coming. Then again, Coral should know you never look away from Cancer Jiles. Not while in striking distance.
Richard Parker: That’s one way to make a three egg omelet.
Nick Stuart: So VILE! My God! Does Jiles not have a heart? Does he not have a soul?
Richard Parker: He really got all of that mist! Coral’s entire forehead is yellow!
The Crownless King lay motionless on the mat, still clutching at his rearranged testicles with a salted yellow face. His assailant stands over him, emotionless, like all eggsecutioners are. After a moment of silence, Cancer reaches down and picks up the microphone.
Cancer Jiles: I guess that’s a yes then.
The Maestro chuckles before rolling out of the ring. He slowly makes his way up the ramp, all the while watching Coral nap up on the Crumbotron. As he is about to make his way through the curtain, he stops, noticing that Coral and his misted face are starting to come to.
Cancer Jiles: Oh. I forgot to tell you. It’s a Lumberjack match, and don’t worry about the Jacks. I know some people.
The show then cuts to commercial break.
THE SEVENTH CIRCLE OF HELL
We return from commercial to the ringside area.
Nick Stuart: Welcome back to ReVival, ladies and gentlemen. Tonight has already been a great show and we haven’t even hit the main event yet!
Richard Parker: I just hope that Praporschik Stanislav gets a chance to correct The Anglo Luchador for his actions against Paxton Ray.
Nick Stuart: There is a lot to unpack with that statement, but right now I’m being told Eddie Cross is on his way out.
On cue, “Cross Off” by Mark Morton hits the PA and the fans turn their attention toward the entrance. As Chester Bennington screams GONE BY! Eddie Cross, sans gaming glasses in his normal olive drab GG shirt, walks out and plays to the crowd. They respond with cheers for the young talent.
After playing up the buzz for a moment, he holds up a finger and walks backstage briefly, emerging with a long, ominous, box that is made of pau wood decorated with a lapalapa motif carved into the face. He slaps a few hands on his way down to the ring and makes his way up the steps with deliberate pace.
Nick Stuart: There is an absolute buzz of energy that didn’t exist the last time this young man was in the ring, and one can’t help but wonder if he has finally turned the corner on his potential.
Richard Parker: I’ll believe it when I see it, Nick.
Eddie lays his box on the mat in the center of the ring and grabs a microphone from Vince Howard, who is standing by ringside. The young man runs his hand through his bright red shocked hair and paces in the ring while the crowd cools.
Eddie Cross: AAAAAALLLLLL RIIIIIGHT, DETROOOOIIIT!
He waits for the crowd to die down before addressing the elephant in the room.
Eddie Cross: For the past few months you’ve seen a tragedy unfold in front of your eyes. Family against family. Best friends at odds. Blood spilled at the hands of someone I trusted with my life.
Eddie Cross: Multiple times.
He pauses and circles around, addressing everyone in the arena. The fans seem to rally behind the underdog that has had a rough go in 2023.
Eddie Cross: There is a saying that “once you are bitten by a snake, you’re forever scared of a length of rope.” I’m here to tell you right here, right now, I ain’t scared of the snake or the bite.
He runs his hand across his forehead, already marked with scars and healing gouges from two weeks ago.
Eddie Cross: As a matter of fact, I want to invite the snake into my home. What do you say Dave? Do you have the guts to come out here and answer for what you’ve done or do you need to blindside me again?
Eddie roams from rope to rope lifting his hands to get the crowd to taunt his former mentor into showing himself. As he works the fans into a fervor, eventually a slow roar of boos begins as Dave Gibson walks out unaccompanied by music. He mocks the crowd with his hands, telling them to keep booing.
Dave finally makes it to the ring, rolls in, and grabs a microphone of his own. He taps the mic a couple times and smiles at his former protege, but first he takes a shot at the crowd.
Dave Gibson: Oh, boo, boo. Yeah, the bad guy is here. Spare me. You all should be thanking me! The hard work of people like me made it possible for you to sit there and watch this company! I deserve your respect!!!
The crowd boos even louder and he soaks it in gleefully. Finally he turns his attention to the young man across the ring.
Dave Gibson: OK Eddie, what do you think you have to say to me?
EC stares intently at his trainer before taking a step forward to look him in the eyes.
Eddie Cross: I’ve had a lot of time to think about this, Dave. Two weeks of pain. Two weeks of tending bruised ribs, cuts healing, and worst of all, Two weeks of a broken heart.
Dave smirks, a sinister sheen in his eyes.
Eddie Cross: I thought maybe you were trying to teach me some point in your own warped way after the first attack. I thought maybe this was a lesson. But it wasn’t, was it?
The fans jeer and Dave mouths the words “that’s it?” to Eddie, though they are inaudible.
Finally, Dave shrugs and holds his mic up.
Dave Gibson: I’m not pretending I’m anything else and I never have. You know better than that. This has always been your problem, Eddie. You look at everyone else and say “this guy or that gal has it out for me.” You don’t realize that it isn’t about me or anyone else, it’s about the business. If you don’t take care of your own neck, nobody else will.
Eddie snorts. He takes a moment to pace and stare down his mentor.
Eddie Cross: So that’s it, huh? You’re just looking after your own neck? Is that all I ever was to you? A way back in?
Dave Gibson: Now hold on, I never said that.
Eddie Cross: YOU DON’T HAVE TO!
The crowd reacts by standing behind Eddie and cheering. Clearly flustered by his emotions, he steels himself, breathing rapidly. Finally, he gathers himself enough to continue.
Eddie Cross: Week after week, month after month, year after year I did what you said, I lived your life, I became what you made me. But I realized something a couple months ago. I realized it was always just about you and your own dream. I’m not you and I was never going to be the person you could live vicariously through, and the moment you realized that you turned the situation on me so you could be relevant again.
The young man steps forward and stares Dave in the eyes.
Eddie Cross: Look at me Dave.
Dave’s thousand yard stare goes right through the young man.
Dave Gibson: I’m lookin’.
Eddie shakes his head.
Eddie Cross: You’re looking but you ain’t seeing. We’re way beyond all that now. I used to think you were the closest thing to my own father in this world. But you know what I think now?
Eddie turns his back on Dave and the crowd reacts to the disrespect. Dave fumes and his face flushes, but he controls himself.
Eddie Cross: I think you are a lonely old man that spends his days remembering the good times. I think you took me for granted.
The elder nods in acknowledgment.
Dave Gibson: That’s what you think, huh? What about my life Eddie? I agreed to train you, that’s it. I ain’t never asked for no son. And can you tell me I ain’t done that?
The young man looks on, steely, but acknowledges Dave’s point.
Eddie Cross: Yeah, you did. I just really thought you might understand things a little clearer in time. But I guess I was wrong.
Dave Gibson: You been wrong about a lot, kid. But I get it, you got your ass whooped and now you want a piece of the old man. Tell me something, do you remember what I told you in the parking lot before you blacked out?
Eddie responds coolly.
Eddie Cross: Yeah, I do. You asked what I am prepared to do for the business.
Dave’s eyes menace Eddie as the young man nervously paces.
Dave Gibson: Damn right I did.
Dave allows the answer to sink in before continuing.
Dave Gibson: Well? What are you prepared to do?
EC pauses and readies himself for what he is about to say. Once he goes down this path, there is no coming back. Finally he brings the microphone up and summons all his courage.
Eddie Cross: I thought about this a lot over the last couple weeks. I thought about what it’s going to take to show you I’m ready for the moment. I thought about what it would take to outplay you in your chess match. I thought about what it would take to truly put fear into someone who acts fearless and I think I figured it out.
Dave cocks his head wondering what Eddie is up to, perhaps for the first time, truly not knowing. He looks on with a smirk, but there is some worry that has crept in.
EC kneels down and opens the wooden case. As Gibson sees what is inside he looks like Scrooge seeing the Ghost of Jacob Marley. His eyes widen and his mouth goes agape as Eddie pulls out a battle worn, hardwood cored, red stain flecked, barbed wire wrapped Tiki Torch.
Eddie Cross: You know what this is, don’t you? I’m sure the fans don’t, but allow me a minute to indulge in some history. You and my dad aren’t just best friends. Before that, you were vicious enemies. For years.
He grasps the torch in his hand, a wicked grin takes over his face.
Eddie Cross: You fought in OSW. You fought when it became OSE. You fought in FUSE. He broke your hand and you tore up his knee. Rarely have two men been so perfectly matched for violence with one another in the industry.
As the young man paces, Dave cannot seem to take his eyes off the torch.
Eddie Cross: And it all culminated with one match, one final stand to determine who would finally be the winner of a ten year feud. The rules were simple: The match only ends with a submission or when one of you closes the door on the ambulance with the other trapped inside.
A pause to let the moment sink in.
Eddie Cross: You beat each other from one end of the arena to the other. Through mountains of chairs, garbage cans, electrical rigging, and even the roof of the ambulance, itself. It was gut check moment after gut check moment. And you blinked first.
The fans cheer as Gibson, clearly not expecting this to happen, has just figured out what Eddie is planning to do. He holds his hands up to try and slow Eddie down, but the young man will have none of it.
Eddie Cross: This is what I am prepared to do, Dave. At UltraViolence, in Chicago Illinois, it’s going to be you and me…
Dave Gibson: Now hold on Eddie… I…
Eddie Cross: IN A STRETCHER/SUBMISSION MATCH!!!
The words hit Gibson like a dagger in the gut and the fans explode as Dave looks at his student in disbelief. His eyes almost plead with Eddie, but he realizes he might have woken up more than he bargained for. He finally rolls out of the ring and as he backs his way up the ramp, he holds his hand up to his mouth.
Eddie Cross: You better dust off your Guns n’ Roses cassette and dig your gear out of the attic, because I’ll be seeing you in two weeks.
He pauses and holds a finger gun at Gibson mocking the bang noise with his mouth while the crowd cheers him on.
Eddie Cross: GG, Dave.
We then cut backstage.
“I don’t get what the hang-up is. It’s not that complicated.”
The camera fades in, but its proximity to the intended targets is a little too close, and it takes a few extra seconds to focus. What we do know? Is that they’re round. Bulbous. Possibly luscious.
Annnd we’re scanning upward, only coming into perfect focus on the backs of PRIME’s Bold and the Booty-Ful. The pair stand in front of a concession, and with no match for the Sykes the Dragonslayer or Hammerin’ Hayes, street clothes are the attire of choice. The concession’s host hands a pair of large plastic cups; Jared’s contains enough caffeine and sugar to power a rocket, while Hanlon’s carries what is clearly a gin and tonic.
Jared Sykes: And also, I can smell that from here. Keep it the hell away from me.
Hayes rolls his eyes, taking a sip.
Hayes Hanlon: (back to the subject) I dunno, man, tag stuff has just never really been my thing. Like, how do I know when it’s time to jump in.
Jared Sykes: Here, let me show you.
Jared sets down his beverage, then grabs Hayes by the wrist of his free hand. He follows with a big, exaggerated slap to Hanlon’s palm with a loud SMACK.
Jared Sykes: There, that’s how you know. But it doesn’t count unless you hold a little white rope. Turnbull is very serious about holding the little white rope. If you don’t, then all the high-fives in the world won’t mean a goddamn thing. He’ll get all up in your face and make you go stand outside again like a schmuck.
The most accurate description, at least according to Betsy and Gretchen – those are the brain hamsters that live in Jared’s head in case you tuned out earlier, you heathen – is that it’s like a certain scene in Santa Claus: The Movie. Early in the film a homeless child named Joe stands in the snow outside a McDonalds watching everyone go batshit on their Big Macs. It’s supposed to be a moment where the audience feels for the kid, because he’s very lonely and desperate for some cholesterol, but that’s hard to do when you’re watching a glorified product placement.
Also, every animal in that movie is dead now, because it’s been almost forty years since it came out.
Jared Sykes: And if you’re very unlucky, he’ll count at you.
Jared takes a sip. You can almost see the caffeine pulse through the veins in his arms.
Jared Sykes: Oh, and FLAMBERGE says “what’s up.”
The Comeback Kid averts his eyes as they roll.
Hayes Hanlon: (sarcastically) Enjoy your little chat with the Glue-Douches earlier?
If he were to answer this honestly, Jared would have to admit that yes, in fact, he did. The conversation was a little combative, sure, but no one tried to kill him. This is a rarity. Normally when Jared has a confrontation with, well, literally anyone of the argumentative sort it ends in exactly one way: with security rushing in to escort the bad men away while Mr. Sykes gets to experience another round of blood loss. And that didn’t happen, so we’re calling that one a win. A great big W in the record books of “Shit That Goes on Backstage.”
Of course, he can’t just come right out and say this.
Jared Sykes: It was… an experience. Not what I was expecting, and yet somehow I wasn’t surprised by it if that makes any sense. Except for the thing about haunches. Still trying to work that out. There’s an image in my head around it, and I’m not sure I want it there.
He’s not mad about that either. Again, can’t say that out loud.
Jared Sykes: Which reminds me, I’m also supposed to pass along a message about… Look, I’m just going to assume you saw it. And if you didn’t, then feel free to watch it back later on.
Hayes Hanlon: Oh, I saw it. I’ll make sure to try and “unclench.”
A quiet moment follows as they amble along. Betsy and Gretchen slow their pace a little. Hayes lets the gin soak between his teeth.
Hayes Hanlon: …look, I’m sorry about that “hero” line a couple weeks ago.
Jared Sykes: Hey, I get it. If I was in your position and some idiot showed up to piss on my campfire I probably wouldn’t have taken it very well either. Water under the bridge, you know? And I admit that might not have been the right thing to do on my end, but it’s a situation I’m too familiar with. Been on your side of it enough to know how it plays out.
Deep inside his head, two small hamsters hold up hamster-sized concussion helmets. Alas, they have no mirrors.
Jared Sykes: It usually doesn’t end well.
Hayes Hanlon: Yeah. I guess I just wanted to take that one on my own. Send a message or something. But I probably just would’ve got my ass beat, and you’re probably right. You’ve got the years under your belt, after all.
Hanlon stops, and shifts toward Sykes.
Hayes Hanlon: So, thanks for stepping in. And I’ll give this tag match everything I got. I wanna see these guys taken down a peg.
Jared Sykes: I know how tag matches are viewed here…
Oh shit. Nope, we’re not doing this rant today. That’s why both of the hamsters have run into their panic room, surrounded by fresh hay and vegetable crunchies. They’re going to be there a while. For safety.
Jared Sykes: But a win here still means you went over two of the top names in the company, regardless of their allegiance. That has to count for something. FLAMBO…
He shouts the name, because that’s what he does when things are stylized in the ALL CAPS.
Jared Sykes: He’s sitting at number one on the rankings, and based on what he said to me earlier has like a whole-ass trophy room full of necks. Plus, you know, the whole Intense championship thing. Farthington has the Five Star, and beat thirty-nine other people at Culture Shock to win that battle royal.
This is exactly what happened.
Don’t argue with me.
My logic is infallible.
Jared Sykes: So yeah. Big names.
Hayes Hanlon: Big names. Big belts.
Hanlon lingers on his comment, staring absently past Jared’s head for a bit. He blinks, shakes his head, and draws his eyes back to the Heart of PRIME.
Hayes Hanlon: Small chests. Let’s eat some glue.
We then cut to another area backstage, that features one member of his own makeshift tag team in the main event tonight.
HOW IS YOUR BROTHER… MATT?
We see Angelica Brooks standing by with The Anglo Luchador, who is already in his ring gear for the main event and a custom t-shirt that reads “I stayed at Brandon Youngblood’s house and all I got was this lousy shirt and a staph infection.”
Angelica Brooks: I’m here with The Anglo Luchador, who will be facing off against Paxton Ray in two straight shows now given Lindsay Troy’s blockbuster announcement right to Foster Nackedy earlier on in the program. You vs. Paxton, no holds barred. What are you thinking?
TAL: First, I’m thinking I need to send Lindz a fruit basket. I didn’t even ask for it, but it’s what I wanted. There’s only one way to put down a feral gator.
Angelica Brooks: True, but Jared Sykes wasn’t able to do that in the main event of Colossus, even in victory.
TAL: Yeah, but…
Voice from off-screen: …but expecting The Luchador to win an actual match is as laughable as capitalist boss giving fare wage!
From off camera walks Alexei Ruslan, comrade of one-half of the team facing off against The Luchador and Brandon Youngblood in the main event, Ivan Stanislav.
TAL: Jesus Christ, what do you want?
Ruslan tips his brown hat and grins wide, standing on the other side of Brooks while facing TAL.
Alexei Ruslan: Tut tut, Luchador. Us communists are atheist. You know this. Jesus Christ has nothing to do with anything! But as for what I want?
Ruslan makes a dramatic look left and right.
Alexei Ruslan: I believe I have right to go walking backstage, do I not?
The Luchador audibly groans.
TAL: You do realize that this is a big arena, and my name was on the call sheet for this location since last week? What’s the deal, Lappy? Are you here to get in my head?
Ruslan smirks and swings his hands behind his back whilst rocking on his heels.
Alexei Ruslan: Oh no, no no. I would not dare try to venture directly into your brainbox. But, since I am here and we are having this chat, do you not think you are being a little flippant by ignoring Ivan Stanislav? You were lucky to be on his team last tag match. But tonight, you have not just Paxton Ray, but The Russian Bear wanting your hide. Best to pay attention to here and now.
The Luchador looks up, rolling his eyes. Angie has an exasperated look on her face.
TAL: Alright, your Muscovite narcissism aside, what gives you any idea that I’m overlooking the 400-pound monster I’ve been jabbing with for the better part of a year thus far? I know you live in a fantasy land, but I didn’t think it was terminal.
Ruslan narrows his eyes.
Alexei Ruslan: Well, you seem to have bad habit of taking your eye off of ball, Luchador. You have made losing an art form! I mean… how many times have you been so busy trying to clean up your messes that someone from home ends up getting brutalized? Ahem, speaking of which, how is your brother… Matt?
The Luchador grows agitated, while Angie makes a pronounced gulp.
TAL: Since it’s been a dog’s age since you last competed, and I’m not the kind of person who throws hands with non-combatants, I’m going to let you off, but you disrespect my brother, Michele Vincenzo Battaglia, and I’m just going to have to take it out on your Russian Bear.
Ruslan smiles reassuringly at Angie.
Alexei Ruslan: Do not worry, Ms. Brooks. Should things grow violent, I shall protect you. And as for that, Luchador, I mean no disrespect. I am just musing about the fight one must have when wanting to avenge, say, someone they love so dearly.
Ruslan strokes his chin.
Alexei Ruslan: Just something to think about, that is all! Now, I can see that I run risk of taking poor Ms. Brooks’ job, asking all important questions. So! I can leave the two of you alone. So long as you feel safe in his company, Angelica?
Angie shoots him the classic “As if” look from Clueless. Alexei smiles as he takes his leave. The Luchador sighs and droops his head.
Angelica Brooks: Okay, well, that was rude to say the least. Do you have…
TAL: Sorry, Ange, I think the mood’s been ruined. Nothing left to say with my words.
The Luchador walks off.
Angelica Brooks: Well, there you have it, some more fuel on the fire for our main event! Let’s throw it back to ringside.
The camera cuts to the ring in wait for our next match.
ROCKY DE LEON VS. RIA LOCKHART
“I’m So Hot” by Chrissy Chlapecka booms over the PA system, leading the PRIME faithful to shower down boos. Despite that, there’s a few that rush to the front row, cellphones in hand. As the beat drops, Ria Lockhart saunters out from the backstage area.
Wearing an extravagant white leather coat with a sparkling golden shawl sewn in, there’s also golden tassels attached to the sleeves and around the bottom. Covering her eyes are an expensive pair of Louis Vuitton sunglasses. The frames are white and metallic, the lenses are gold and mirrored.
Vince Howard: Introducing first, making her way to the ring… standing at five feet six inches, and weighing in at one hundred and fifty pounds… RIIIIIIIAAAAAAA LOOOOOOOCKHAAAAART!!!
Ria sashays down to ringside, doing her best to keep anyone from touching her as she does. Ria stops at the steps. She emphatically pulls her glasses off, making sure to tuck them into the inside pocket of her jacket. Lockhart slowly slides her jacket off, revealing her body in dramatic fashion. Once the jacket is off, Ria folds it up and tosses it into the corner underneath the ropes.
The RiIP climbs the steps and onto the ring apron. She takes a few sensuous steps before throwing a leg over the middle rope. Ria bends over to slide her upper body inside, taking her sweet time in doing so, giving people a show. She finally swings her other leg inside.
Ria walls over to the corner, fluffing her hair for a moment. She leans back against the turnbuckle pads, one foot resting against the bottom rope.
“Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard” by Streetlight Manifesto cuts through the arena.
The mama pajama rolled out of bed
And she ran to the police station
When the papa found out he began to shout
And he started the investigation
Vince Howard: Her opponent, making his way to the ring… standing six foot two and weighing in at two-hundred and fifteen pounds… THE LION OF LAREDO… ROOOOOOOCKY DEEE LEEEEEOOOOOON!
Rocky marches with a purpose to the edge of the ring. He runs up the ring steps quickly and wipes his feet on the apron before nimbly hopping over the ropes and waving to the crowd. Rocky points a finger to the crowd and bounds up the corner to the top turnbuckle, then gives a mighty bellowing SKREEEE! He pumps his fists in the air and hops down, all business.
Nick Stuart: The introductions have been made and we are ready to go!
Nick Stuart: Two big personalities in small packages in what is bound to be a high energy exchange.
Richard Parker: And that damned Stu Weiler is back.
Nick Stuart: Really? We’re starting that again?
Richard does his best Severus Snape.
Richard Parker: Always.
Rocky offers to shake hands and Ria rebuffs him, leading to a smattering of boos. Quickly they tie up in a collar and elbow and Rocky twists behind then throws Ria with an arm drag and as she pops up and comes at him again, another, and another. Ria stays down and slaps the canvas in frustration as Rocky kips up and plays to the crowd.
She cracks her neck and stands up, engaging the luchador once again, this time pushing him back into the corner. As Ashley Barlow separates them, Ria holds her hands up and at just the right moment, lashes out to kick Rocky in the gut, drawing an admonishment from Barlow.
Nick Stuart: Ria is up to dirty tactics early in this one.
Richard Parker: Some say dirty. I say when opportunity knocks you gotta answer.
As Ria presses the attack and comes forward again, Rocky grabs her for a reversal into the corner. He launches a few shoulder tackles, drawing the support of the fans, before he bolts across the ring and cups both his hands to his mouth.
With a mighty SKREEEEE! He rushes across the ring and leaps into the air with a Pterosaur Splash. If one good turn deserves another, so too does a good splash and he is soon in position for another Pterosaur Splash. Rocky races across the ring and leaps, splashing into Ria a second time. The Trans Terror falls to the mat and rolls out of the ring, but she isn’t safe from the attack of the luchador as he leaps up the corner nimbly and launches himself with a Plancha Suicida!
Nick Stuart: What a repertoire of moves for Rocky, he has Ria absolutely reeling.
Richard Parker: Respectively, I think it was reckless and I’d really like to see him restrained.
Nick Stuart: That’s quite a remark, Richard.
Richard Parker: Here’s a remark for you: Applesauce.
Rocky presses the attack, picking Ria up and whipping her into the barricade, which pushes backwards. A couple enterprising fans try to touch Ria’s hair and she snarls, nearly spitting on one. She doesn’t have time though as Rocky rushes, leaps up onto the apron and front flips off into a modified senton.
The pair crash together into the rail and the crowd, much like Peter Frampton, comes alive. Rocky is first to his feet and grabs Ria to roll her in the ring. She gets to her hands and knees, huffing and wondering what type of buzzsaw hit her.
Nick Stuart: Ria looks like she doesn’t know what to make of the high energy offense of Rocky.
Richard Parker: I don’t know if many people do, he has that super nerd writing up game plans for him.
Nick Stuart: Nerd or not, it’s effective tonight.
Rocky bursts toward the corner and leaps in the air off the second turnbuckle, but Ria instinctively rolls out of the way and there is nobody home! Rocky flails his arms and slaps into the mat like a belly flop. As he groans, Ria takes a moment to assess the situation before slowing the match down with a front choke!
Rocky pulls away and tries to fight his way out, but Ria is doing everything she can to not let him build another head of steam. The luchador fights toward the ropes and reaches out but is unable to grab them.
Nick Stuart: Ria has a solid lock and seems like she has no intention of letting it go.
Richard Parker: Rocky is in no man’s land out there!
Rocky looks like he is considering tapping out, but instead he digs deep into his fortitude and twists his body to reach a leg out and grabs at the ropes with the toes of his boot. He just barely reaches and Ashley Barlow is there to break the hold, which Ria does, but not before holding it a few seconds longer than she should.
Ria parades around with her hands out, showing off her curves, but she doesn’t see Rocky get back to his feet and hit her with a missile drop kick! She goes down and pops up quickly, only to see a leaping Pterosaur wrap his legs around her head and rotate backwards with a picture perfect hurricanrana.
Nick Stuart: There goes the FDP gaining the momentum again!
Richard Parker: No! I can’t stand when that nerd Stu Weiler does well!
Nick Stuart: But what about Rocky De Leon?
Richard Parker: Oh, I’m fine with him winning, it’s just that damn Stu Weiler I can’t stand! Look at him over there, looking smug with his laptop and his “I’m better than you glances at me.”
Nick Stuart: He hasn’t looked this way all match, Richard.
Richard Parker: It’s collusion! I’m telling you.
Nick shakes his head.
Back in the ring, Rocky is building steam once again. He bounds off the ropes waiting for Ria to stand, which she finally does hazily, and the FPD leaps, planting one foot on the middle rope and the other on the top. He soars through the air and cracks Ria in the jaw hard with his forearm, knocking her to the mat like a sack of potatoes.
Nick Stuart: The Flying Squirrel! That has to be it! Ria Lockhart looks like she is out cold!
Rocky slightly misjudged the power he needed and rolled right past his opponent. He turns and sees his opponent flat on their back and scrambles over to them to make the pin. The FDP puts in a deep hook and crosses the leg just to be sure that the pin is good enough.
Ashley Barlow slides into place and begins her count…
DING DING DING!
Nick Stuart: Just like that Rocky picks up an impressive win and stops his skid!
Richard Parker: Eh, the kid needed a break. I can’t be mad about that!
Nick Stuart: What about Stu Weiler?
Richard Parker: No. *BEEP* that guy.
Nick Stuart: Well ladies and gentlemen of the PRIME fan base and the office that censors my partner, another barn burner is in the books and I am being told that our own Simon Tillier is standing by backstage! Take it away, Simon!
The broadcast fades as the production cues up the pre-taped footage.
The scene is a standard interview set-up. Soft mood lighting on a stylized PRIME backdrop. A couple seats. A couple ferns.
Simon Tillier, PRIME’s chipper and ever-enthusiastic junior backstage reporter, is seated in one of the two plush gray armchairs, absentmindedly primping at the corners of his navy suit.
Then he notices the camera rolling, and quickly perks to attention. His characteristically boyish grin spreads across his face
Simon Tillier: Hello, ladies and gentlemen! Simon Tillier here!
A chyron with his name appears below him, for those at home who are presumably hard of hearing.
Simon Tillier: Tonight, fans, PRIME Wrestling is proud to provide you an exclusive in-depth look into a highly anticipated new star who will soon be joining the locker room!
He holds out his arm, gesturing to the off-screen figure in the other chair.
Simon Tillier: At this time, allow me to introduce my guest… Kerry Kuroyama!
Cut to camera two, trained on the seat across from Simon.
PRIME gets its first real glimpse at Kerry Kuroyama, casually reclining in his own plush seat. Kuroyama is a rather regal and statuesque man of thirty, adorned in a dark emerald suit complimented with a black shirt and gold chain.
The chyron reappears, now with the interviewee’s name. Production graciously leaves up a few seconds longer than normal.
A chance for the mush-mouthed lowlifes watching at home to read over the last name a couple times in hopes that they get the pronunciation right.
Simon Tillier: Kerry, thanks for joining me this afternoon! And a pleasure to formally meet you!
Kuroyama nods once in acknowledgement of Simon’s greeting. Firm and deliberate.
Kerry Kuroyama: Honored.
Cut to camera three, which fits both men into the shot. Tillier, brimming with an earnest sort of buzz for this opportunity, is upright and on the edge of his seat with his notes in hand. Across from him, Kerry is relaxed and reposed. The image of tranquility.
Simon Tillier: Well, Kerry, I know I don’t speak only for myself when I say that there are many here in PRIME who are eager to get to know “the Pacific Blitzkrieg” of Vae Victis fame. Especially given your work over in our tertiary competitor, DEFIANCE Wrestling.
The corners of Kuroyama’s mouth curl into a slight smile. It’s understated, yet still somehow brimming with confidence.
Kerry Kuroyama: My reputation precedes me. I’m relieved to hear that
Simon clears his throat while his handles fiddle with his notecards.
Simon Tillier: So, fill us in on a bit of a background. From what I’m told, you’ve been wrestling now for over a decade?
Kerry affirms that the junior reporter did indeed do his homework with a slight nod.
Kerry Kuroyama: Twelve years, professionally. Though technically, I’ve been working the ring since I was fifteen.
Simon Tillier: Really? That’s quite an early start. But then, I’m told you are a third-generation athlete.
Kerry Kuroyama: Correct.
Simon Tillier: So I suppose wrestling was always expected of you, it being the family business? Continuing the family legacy, and what have you?
Kerry looks to a nondescript point off camera for a beat as he mulls over an answer.
Kerry Kuroyama: …more or less. I can certainly say that coming from a family of wrestlers factored into choosing this career path.
His eyes find Simon again. Thunderous conviction underlines the serious tone of his voice.
Kerry Kuroyama: But nevertheless, Simon, the choice was my own.
Tillier nods, understanding.
Simon Tillier: I think I see what you’re saying. Well then, let’s move forward from your humble beginnings as a young up-and-coming pedigree talent from Seattle, and talk about your time in New Orleans, working for DEFIANCE.
A paradoxical sound.
Long and heavy. Dripping with both fondness and utter exhaustion.
Kerry Kuroyama: Many, many great people down there in New Orleans, doing many, many great things in the name of professional wrestling.
Then his face grows taut. The smile comes off more as a sneer. It’s as though somebody held up a carton of spoiled milk under his nose.
Kerry Kuroyama: …and… some others.
Simon Tillier: What was it like, working there?
Kerry spends a beat to ponder on how exactly he wants to answer that question.
Because there are many ways of going about it. And he’s not sure any one answer would fully encapsulate the situation.
Kerry Kuroyama: DEFIANCE… was a solid paycheck for the past eight years.
Simon blinks. Balks, almost. It wasn’t quite the answer he was expecting.
Kerry Kuroyama: Like any federation, it had its highs and its lows. In the case of the former, working alongside legends like Lindsay Troy, Henry Keyes, and Sonny Silver in Vae Victis.
Simon Tillier: And the lows?
His smile reappears, a bit wider and more relaxed.
Kerry Kuroyama: Well… let me just say that DEFIANCE is a place that fosters a certain kind of culture. One that, after eight years of the grind, I’ve honestly become a bit weary of.
Simon’s eyebrow arches.
Simon Tillier: Is that so? Please elaborate more on that “culture”, as you put it. How does it compare to what we have here in PRIME?
Kerry emits a low, but warm, chuckle in the back of his throat.
Kerry Kuroyama: That’s a loaded question, Simon… but I’ll give it my best.
Kuroyama uncrosses his legs and sits up, bringing himself closer to the interviewer. Simon also edges further toward the edge of his seat, hanging on every word.
Kerry Kuroyama: It’s a culture that values things like “the entertainment factor”, over the sanctity of the sport. A culture that values stories and soap operas, over wins and losses.
His eyes narrow. His head tilts.
Kerry Kuroyama: A culture where the only way to get ahead is to grease palms, kiss ass, and make a fool out of yourself. And if you’re patient, and show up, and work hard, and be a good sport around the thigh-slappers whenever they go and do their indulgent, contrived acrobat bullshit, then maybe–maybe… the Big Bankers that fancy themselves wrestling promoters will give you a title opportunity.
Kerry Kuroyama: Just so some asshole can tear it away from you… and never have to answer for it.
Between his knees, Kerry’s palms firmly rub into one another.
Almost a bit too firm. Borderline aggressive, even.
Kerry Kuroyama: But above all that, it’s a culture that is alarmingly regressing back into a darker time. A time that many of us had hoped was long gone. All by opening its doors to select ne’er-do-wells who should have stayed under whatever rock they crawled out of. A culture that tries to pass off novelty acts as professional athletes. Gamers. Snowflakes. Clowns. Vampires.
That sour milk expression returns.
Kerry Kuroyama: Stoner punks…
He grunts, and continues.
Kerry Kuroyama: Eighteenth-century strongmen with stupid accents and fragile egos. Washed up divas who stupidly believe the Gilmore Girls somehow translate to wrestling. Gothic sadbois with basement chemistry labs where they brew up monster serum. Ned Reform. Every manner of circus sideshow, using that squared circle as a stage to either play out their life drama, or their practice their stand-up routine.
The corners of his jawline slightly pulsate, suggesting the grinding of teeth.
Kerry Kuroyama: I existed within that culture for eight years before I finally realized I no longer had any place in it.
He points to his chest.
Kerry Kuroyama: At my core, Simon, I am not an entertainer. I am a competitor.
Tillier, who has remained silent over the course of this deposition, now sees his chance to bring the interview back full circle.
Simon Tillier: And so, here we are at the present day, with your coming to PRIME. Would you say this is the culture you’d rather be a part of?
Kerry Kuroyama: That’s exactly why I’m here, Simon. Based on everything I’ve seen happen in this company over the past two years, I’m confident that PRIME is the place where competition is king. A place where success isn’t simply something to be gifted to me on the basis of good behavior and time served.
He points to the ground beneath his feat. A figurative gesture.
Kerry Kuroyama: Here in PRIME, success is something to be taken.
Simon is taking it all in. His energy has quieted down from the beginning of the interview.
On the other hand, Kuroyama’s presence and overall attitude has subtly grown more forceful and intimidating. He’s hardly the laid back, well-dressed gentleman the junior reporter first met only a few minutes ago.
He’s become something else.
As if breaking from a trance, Tillier sees that the notes in his hands have somehow wrinkled and faded through absentminded fiddling about. He sets them aside and decides to wing it going forward.
Simon Tillier: I see. So then, I suppose I should ask, what sort of success do you intend to take for yourself here? As in, what’s your overall goal in PRIME?
Kuroyama holds out his hands.
Kerry Kuroyama: What other goal is there? The Universal Championship. The undisputed greatest prize in the modern era of professional wrestling. The endgame for any well-meaning wrestler with the right amount of heart and talent.
There’s no hesitation in his voice. No mistaking his intentions.
Simon’s eyes stay on him, transfixed.
Kerry Kuroyama: My absolute goal is to claim the summit of the PRIME mountain. To join the ranks of timeless legends like Brandon Youngblood. Hayes Hanlon. Nova. Chandler Tsonda. Cancer Jiles. Phil Atken.
Simon’s face brightens.
Simon Tillier: Rezin?
Kerry’s face darkens.
Kerry Kuroyama: …
Simon Tillier: …
The silence lingers for a long and painfully awkward beat.
Long enough to impress upon the junior reporter that Kerry Kuroyama is not a man to be interrupted.
Especially when bringing up that particular shithead.
Picking up on the tension, Simon realizes his folly and appears to shrink further into his chair. Then finally–and perhaps somewhat graciously–he clears his throat with a light grunt and continues.
Kerry Kuroyama: The point I want to get across to you, Simon–as well as the millions watching at home–is that an athlete of my caliber and ambition doesn’t come to a place like this without a certain amount of confidence in his ability to get what he sets himself after.
Kuroyama turns in his seat and looks dead into the camera.
Deep within his dark eyes, a storm is brewing.
Kerry Kuroyama: I don’t want a single one of you mistaking my intentions. I didn’t come to PRIME to make friends. I came here to drop motherfuckers on their heads, and put gold around this waist. You can watch it happen soon, come the Almasy Invitational. To those of you in the locker room who have the capacity to pull your head out of your ass and pay attention, let me send this message to you: Step up, or step the fuck aside. You’re out of time, and I’m out of patience.
Kerry looks back over to his esteemed interviewer.
Kerry Kuroyama: …we’re done here then, yes?
Simon Tillier: (stammering) I–uhhm…
Before Tillier can protest or react, Kuroyama is up and on his feet. In seconds, the mic and bodypack come off and go into the now empty seat.
Production cuts to camera one, trained on the interviewer. Kerry’s emerald suit flashes by as he passes between the camera and Simon in his walk off the set.
Tillier helplessly watches him leave, and is left awkwardly staring into the camera with nothing left to say.
Dead air for several seconds.
Production, sensing this is going nowhere, fades to black.
SO YOU WANT TO FIGHT LIKE ANIMALS
Hot off the heels of the Kerry Kuroyama segment with Simon Tillier, we’re back at the ring in the Little Caesars Arena. A table splits the ring in half, but what is more interesting is the wealth of humanity in the ring. The Queen of the Ring, Lindsay Troy, stands at the head of the table in the upper center of the ring, PRIME Head of Security, Dametreyus, stands next to her while Wade Elliott is at her other side, as well as six Enemigos.
Nick Stuart: Folks, we’re here at ringside…
Richard Parker: I mean they always know that, Nick. We’re always at ringside.
Nick Stuart: It’s just an intro Richard it…
Richard Parker: Yeah but they know it. We’ve been at ringside together for years.
There’s an awkward silence.
Nick Stuart: Anyway. Folks, we’ve got Lindsay Troy, Dam, Wade Elliott, and a gaggle of Enemigos for what my run sheet calls a contract signing for the Universal Title match at UltraViolence!
Richard Parker: I bet they’re all there to protect Brandon Youngblood from Comrade Stanislav!
Nick Stuart: Let’s not forget that Brandon Youngblood left Ivan’s face a bloody mess at ReVival 34!
Richard Parker: I’m pretty sure it was just the lighting.
Nick Stuart: How about you tell that to our Universal Champion?
Richard Parker: Take it away, boss lady!
Lindsay Troy: Folks, we are two weeks away from the second UltraViolence of the ReVival era, and while the main event for the Universal Title has been known for a few weeks now, we have yet to make it official.
She holds up a clipboard, which gets a pop.
Lindsay Troy: You can tell where this is going, so let’s not waste any more time. Ivan, would you please make your way out here?
“The Soviet National Anthem” by the Russian Red Army Choir blares through the arena as the lights shift to crimson. Immediately the crowd turns and begins to boo angrily, and it only grows as Ivan Stanislav emerges from backstage with the rest of The Red Army. Alexei Ruslan, with a positively radioactive scowl on his face, along with the Masters of the Moscowverse Kenny Freeman and Randall Schwartz, walk behind and to the side of Stanislav.
Ivan doesn’t hesitate to jaw at the crowd, wiping sweat from his brow and flicking it at an angry male in the front row. He makes to step onto the apron closest to the entryway, but Dam points at him and motions to the other side of the ring.
Nick Stuart: Looks like Lindsay Troy already wants this done her way!
Stanislav roars and argues with Dam for a moment, before he slowly stomps around the ring with Alexei and the Masters in tow. He bellows angrily at the announce position, but it’s in Russian, so who knows what he’s saying. But he seems annoyed.
Stanislav steps easily up onto the apron and then seamlessly steps over the top rope. Alexei climbs the stairs and climbs in, but when Freeman and Schwartz make to climb into the ring, Wade Elliott, with three Enemigos, instructs them to stay out of the ring. Again, Stanislav jaws at Elliott this time, and then makes a big fuss towards Lindsay Troy, who stares daggers at him.
She says something to Ivan. It’s curt. It’s quiet. But he growls at her and nods to the Masters of the Moscowverse. The duo remain down by the announce table.
Nick Stuart: This is for the best. No reason to have too many people in that ring. Alexei is lucky she didn’t throw him out too!
Richard Parker: Whatever.
Nick Stuart: You know she pays you, right Richard? She’s gonna hear this later.
Richard Parker: And she’s the best boss I ever had. Thanks LT!
Stanislav stomps back and forth on his side of the ring, the canvas flexing and bouncing slightly as steam nearly blasts from his nostrils. Ruslan stands still, but glares daggers towards the entryway.
Lindsay Troy: Champ, whenever you’re ready.
BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD
SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE
LET THE GALAXY BURN
From the foot of the stage, the camera takes a wide shot as Bloodsport (World Domination) by HEALTH powers through Little Caesars. Through the blinding blue and white strobing light cutting through the darkness, the figure of Brandon Youngblood surges from the curtain, the Detroit fans going absolutely insane with raucous cheers. The Tower of Babel powerwalks, his eyes trained forward, an oppressive scowl of intensity painting his face as well as subtle reminders of the brutal brawl that took place on the most recent ReVival. Dressed to compete, with a white sleeveless hoodie over his upper body. The diamond Youngblood logo is prominent and center chest. And in his hand?
The PRIME Universal Championship.
As Youngblood makes his way to the ring, Stanislav and Ruslan have a miniature conference (well, as miniature as anything can be with The Russian Bear). They chat with one another energetically in Russian, before standing upright as Youngblood enters the ring.
The Tower of Babel’s shoulders sway with the bravado of his BMF walk, a spotlight lighting his path. The 2022 Wrestler of the Year is quick down the ramp, his gait swinging him around the arena floor, to the ring steps. It’s there we see what hadn’t been evident before; there was text on the back of that hoodie. What did it say?
RAN THE MARATHON
CROSSED THE EVENT HORIZON
SONNED THE SHOGUN
PAID THE TAB
There is no slowdown as his feet pound the steel, stepping between the ropes and exploding upright. There is no mind paid to anyone but his future opponent. Once inside, he begins pacing around the outside perimeter of the ring, brushing at his mouth, the Universal Championship swaying with his every movement.
Stanislav roars angrily over at Youngblood. He points. He bellows. He gesticulates. All the while, behind him, Ruslan does the same, stomping his foot and pointing animatedly at The Tower of Babel. He even puts up his dukes as if to fight Youngblood, safely in the shadow of The Russian Bear and with the table between them. And as they do? The Diamond paces, his eyes wide, his nostrils flaring.
Lindsay Troy: Before we get down to brass tacks, I’m gonna need all of you to keep your hands to yourselves while we go through the exercise of signing our names on dotted lines. That goes for you two (she glares at the Masters) and also you and whatever paraphernalia you’ve got in that big ass coat of yours, Alexei.
Alexei is beside himself as he screams back at the Queen. Ivan isn’t thrilled either.
Lindsay Troy: Now. Let’s see how well my Universal Champ and my #1 Contender can follow directions, because two weeks ago was a shitshow and I’m not really of a mind to have a repeat of it tonight.
She levels Ivan with a cold glare.
Lindsay Troy: You don’t like Youngblood because you find him to be pompous and arrogant…
Then, she turns to face Brandon.
Lindsay Troy: You don’t like Stanislav because, while he views you as pompous and arrogant, you think the same of him…but with a side helping of nationalism for flavor.
Then, her glances move between the two prowling combatants.
Lindsay Troy: You both don’t like each other and that bad blood’s been going on for about a year now. You’re gonna get the chance to settle some things in Chicago…but as everyone saw last week…neither of you is capable of doing it within the confines of a standard sanctioned match. Now, I could threaten you both with massive fines. I could shame you for not being able to be professional athletes.
A climbing buzz fills the Little Caesar’s Arena. They know where this is going.
Lindsay Troy: But I don’t think either of you would be cool with that. I…most certainly…would not be cool with that. And most importantly…the fans wouldn’t be cool with that. So here is what we’re going to do; over a year ago, two men faced off at the Great American Nightmare with the opportunity to compete for the Universal Championship at last year’s UltraViolence. And after thirty minutes of brutality, it ended in a draw. Things escalated. Shocks occurred. What it cost PRIME was Phil Atken…who is still in a wheelchair. It broke the lineage of the Universal Championship. Those two men…Cancer Jiles…Julian Bathory…I made them pay our way into Madison Square Garden for Colossus. But you both know that wasn’t the only thing they had to pay. They wanted to fight like animals…so I gave them a place to be animals.
That buzz is at a fever pitch.
Lindsay Troy: The most brutal match of the ReVival. The most savage. The most violent. And to be honest…those two men didn’t hate each other as much as you both hate each other. So…like I did to them…you want to be animals? Then you will fight like animals. UltraViolence. Night Two. Universal Championship Match. No time limits. No escape. Pinfall or submission only. Ivan Stanislav. Brandon Youngblood.
A slight pause, a sinister smirk from the Queen.
Lindsay Troy: The UltraViolence Cage.
The fans in Detroit come unglued. In the face of such a threat, this should cause the two men to give pause. To rethink their choices.
Do you think this really happened?
Stanislav nearly snatches the contract out of Troy’s hands. He grins to himself as he, and Alexei, both look at the contract together, reading the language. Ultimately, Ruslan produces a red pen (because of course he would), and Stanislav signs the contract on his comrade’s back, in pure proletarian fashion. Then, Stanislav slams the contract on the table and spins it around to face Youngblood. Ivan’s toothy grin couldn’t possibly grow wider as he looms over the table. He barks loud enough that his voice is picked up.
Ivan Stanislav: Sign away that title, dog!
That statement is enough to make him pause. The Tower of Babel snarls. With a passing glare at Lindsay Troy, he grabs the clipboard, the pen flying to the canvas in the process. In his paces, he reaches down for it quickly. However…
Lindsay Troy: And I just want to make this clear, to the both of you. I had to call in some favors, but I wanted to make sure there would be no wiggle room. No way to get away. Ivan, you fought in a Hell in a Cell at Culture Shock for the Universal Championship, and all I’ve had to hear about is the ‘poor quality of American steel.’ I’m not having a repeat of that talking point. This cage? It’s made strictly of Russian steel.
Stanislav blinks. It doesn’t happen often, but he’s stunned. He looks back at Ruslan, who looks back at Ivan, who looks at Lindsay Troy, and then over at Youngblood. With froth nearly pouring out of The Russian Bear’s mouth, he lets out a stream of spit and sound.
Ivan Stanislav: DYAAHAAHAA!! DYAAHAAHAA!!
Lindsay Troy: You got a problem with that Brandon? Because if you do…
There is NO hesitation. He has already signed, snapping the clipboard back in front of her before tossing the pen into the crowd. Stanislav is known for his trademark laugh. It’s all the more shocking when something akin to it bellows from the maw of the Universal Champion.
Brandon Youngblood: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!
Drool flies from the Diamond as, in the very next moment, he launches the Universal Championship belt into the face of Ivan Stanislav as hard as he can, the table getting shoved away immediately after. The faceplate blasts into the bridge of Ivan’s nose, and as Lindsay Troy makes way, Brandon launches forward, throwing sharp elbows in his direction.
Nick Stuart: THEY’RE GONNA GET IT ON RIGHT HERE BEFORE THE MAIN EVENT!
Alexei grabs at the hoodie, pulling Youngblood just enough to get his attention. Ivan is incensed, but he’s on a knee, and each time he tries to get up, he stumbles in blindness. Alexei screams at Brandon as he tries to buy The Praporshchik time.
All it does is give Youngblood a chance to smack the absolute dogshit out of him with a hellacious open handed slap. And in the wake of it?
Dropped on top of his head with a half nelson suplex.
Richard Parker: HOLY–
Nick Stuart: –STANISLAV!
Ivan doesn’t just hip check the Universal Champion; he launches into him with his whole mass, sending Youngblood awkwardly flying onto his neck and shoulders. The blow looks savage, and while the Champion is quick to try and make it seem like it didn’t hurt him, the vertigo from the shot causes him to plant onto the ground, scurrying to his feet. Stanislav is ready to charge forward to continue the assault, but as he does, Brandon explodes back to his feet.
The fight is on!
Detroit is going crazy!
Security, Enemigos, Dam, Wade, the Detroit Police, Omni Consumer Products, hell, probably fucking Robocop…they are in that ring and tackling these two and stopping this insanity from going any further, pulling them apart, building barriers of flesh to ensure this doesn’t cascade into insanity like the prior ReVival.
Lindsay Troy: Save something for the main event!
Those fans are still booing.
Nick Stuart: Can these…can these two even occupy the same space and not want to destroy each other?
Richard Parker: The real question is…how much you think we all stand to make from these two beating the absolute piss out of each other? Because in this situation…you’re either in it for the title, for the fight, or the money. And you and me? We’re lovers, not fighters.
Nick Stuart: Ummm…
Richard Parker: Red is going to turn to lots of green, Nick. Lots and lots of green.
And as we seem to have a slight thaw from the intensity, we go elsewhere.
THE CITY OF REINVENTION
The camera fades in following the man in his frock coat and wide-brimmed hat walking the streets of Detroit. The sun is shining brightly, birds are singing and kids can be heard playing in their chain-link fenced in yards.
MAN: The City of Reinvention. Did you know we call it that? We used to, before the city fell on hard times and into the darkness.
He pauses briefly to take in his surroundings, coming in more clearly as the camera focuses. The houses are unpainted and uncared for, all in various states of dilapidation. Front lawns haven’t been mowed and grow high, gardens haven’t been weeded in a dog’s age.
MAN: I grew up in this neighborhood in a time when all things were possible. We were carefree and innocent, unburdened by responsibility to ourselves, to each other, to Him. Detroit, Michigan is where Don Winters found himself.
Don Winters turns right following the sidewalk, letting his right hand trail along the fencing, plinking sounds trailing as he goes.
WINTERS: The City of Reinvention. Where something broken can become something useful again. Where the maligned can work to become praised. It’s very difficult, however, to reinvent, when the city is actively fighting against you, holding you down. The City of Reinvention can tear you apart, leave you beaten, bloodied and broken, begging it to stop…
He inhales deeply.
WINTERS: …but it will never relent, not until there’s nothing left. The City of Reinvention will strip your agency, your being and most importantly, your faith from you. I found myself at the bottom of numerous places over the last 15 years. Rock bottom, the bottom of a bottle, as we all know those things typically go hand in hand.
Don Winters stops walking and looks up. Before him is a massive well-kept stone church, its steeple piercing the blue sky.
WINTERS: The City of Reinvention. When I was at my lowest point, the most lost I had ever been, I returned here to this church. It took years to allow myself to look up from the ground, then to look in the mirror and finally, to seek and find Him. From the Fallen Angel to the Angel Among Us, I was reinvented in this city against all odds…
Don Winters turns to face the camera, green eyes smiling beneath his hat.
WINTERS: …which makes it so fitting that PRIME has found its way here with another edition of ReVival. A company that had to reinvent itself, much in the same way I did. It is both commendable and noble that they would bring themselves to the City of Reinvention to give the hopeless a small night of respite from their sad, faithless lives. PRIME forgot to invite me to the party in my own hometown though. They’ve come into my holy city without so much as a hello? The PRIME roster is just as faithless and wayward as the people of Detroit.
The spark in his eyes is gone, replaced by a smoldering fire.
WINTERS: This not the City of Reinvention, but the City of Resurrection and I am the Angel Among You, I am the Revelator Don Winters and I am bringing all of you Absolution.
We then fade to black before cutting back to the ringside area.
BOBBY DEAN vs. SAGE PONTIFF
Vince Howard: The following contest is scheduled for one fall!
“One fall!” says the crowd in response.
Vince Howard: Introducing first…
At first, darkness hits. Every light fades, causing a buzz among the crowd and a few cellphone camera lights to twinkle into existence. The video screen shows a single glowing orb at the top of the screen. Lavender. Then another beneath it, blue. Teal. Green. Yellow. Orange. Finally, red–and then around it, the shimmering outline of a human body in lotus position. This hold on the screen as an almost marching drumbeat begins, pulsing throughout the arena.
Lights come up, pink in tone, all in time with a psychedelic drone of distorted guitar noise. As the solo of what could very well be an electric sitar begins, a figure walks out from the back. More accurately, he damn near glides. His neck is hanging with the weight of what seem to be many different strands of prayer beads. He is barefoot, his calf length, baggy pants a frankly offensive patchwork of tie dye, paisley, and other patterns. Hanging to the floor is a long, linen kimono in pure white.
Vince Howard: From the High Desert, Joshua Tree, California, he weighs in tonight at two-hundred and one pounds…
Sage Pontiff has arrived, and he throws his head back, practically bathing in the rain of flower petals.
There is no up or down
Your truth is the only master
Death is made by the living
Pain is only intense to you
He begins to slowly make his way down the ramp, occasionally twirling and oftentimes doing respectful bows to certain members of the audience, kissing his fingertips and then touching his forehead.
Vince Howard: He is the Bodhisattva of Transformative Experience…SAAAAGE PONTIIIIFF!!
Sage slides into the ring, kips to his feet fluidly, and then takes a running start and leaps flat footed, landing with a slight wobble on the top turnbuckle–but sticks the landing, and holds his arms out messianic-style, bathing in reactions. Mostly negative, though there are a smattering of true believers that are making themselves known over the jeers.
The Sun shines every day
The Sun shines every day
Sage executes a backflip from the top, landing on his feet, and bows to the crowd, and the toward Elvis Nixon before removing his kimono and beads. He begins to stretch, adopting the revolved crescent lunge, his fluidity and vascularity on full display as “Satori Part II” fades to nothing.
Vince Howard: And his opponent, coming down the aisle from Houston, Texas…
Joe Esposito’s timeless classic “You’re The Best” begins to play over the arena speakers, heralding the arrival of Beautiful Bobby Dean. Unbeknownst to Richard, it also heralds the arrival of another man.
Richard Parker: All the way from Houston? That’s a hell of a walk for a man of his size.
Nick Stuart: (muffled into his headset) Alright, send him down.
Richard Parker: Send wh… Oh! Oh, no.
That man’s name is Doug, and he’s a menace with a shock collar. Apparently those are all the rage these days.
Vince Howard: And weighing in tonight at three hundred and sixty-nine pounds… BEAUTIFUL BOBBYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY… DEAN!
Bobby seems to be in no rush to get to the ring as he casually strolls down the ramp. Every now and again his nose perks up and he finds himself drawn to one of the guardrails to see what the nearby fans are snacking on.
Richard Parker: Why would you do this, Nick?!
Nick Stuart: Those are the rules. I don’t make them up.
Richard Parker: Well who did?
The next voice the fans at home hear is muted, because it’s only because of proximity that the sound is picked up at all.
Doug: Nate from logistics. He’s a real angel.
The walkway window shopping continues as Bobby browses the myriad treats being consumed near the ramp. He’s distracted by a particularly sweet-smelling bucket of caramel popcorn when his situation suddenly changes for the worse.
Sage Pontiff slides out of the ring and charges up the ramp, eager to get the violence underway. He springs off of the railing with one foot and has to adjust himself to prevent from slipping off before planting both feet into Bobby’s back and sending him to the ground.
Popcorn goes flying everywhere.
Nick Stuart: Sage with the attack before the bell, not waiting for this one to become official.
Richard Parker: That’s what happens when you… umm…
Doug: What’s wrong? Cat got your tongue?
Nick Stuart: Bobby back to his feet, and Sage just laying in those shots.
Beautiful Bobby catches a staggering forearm to the jaw that staggers him enough for Sage to grab him by the head and ram him hard into the barricade. This brings out Elvis Nixon from the ring, but before he can urge both men to get inside and make it official, Sage once again drives Bobby into the railing.
Nick Stuart: At last the referee is out here trying to get this under control.
He’s able to get between the two men for a moment, and actually manages to start to maneuver Pontiff towards the ring. Bobby glances at the ground, and seeing the floor now a mess of wasted treats, well…
Nick Stuart: Bobby Dean almost bowled over Elvis Nixon trying to get to Pontiff!
Richard Parker: Dammit, I have such a good joke for this and I can’t say it!
The big man charges at Sage, scooping him around the waist and running at full speed into the ring apron. Sage collides back-first, all the air driven from his lungs. Bobby rolls Sage into the ring, and then follows suit.
Finally, the bell rings to make this one official.
And no sooner does it sound does Pontiff roll back under the ropes. Bobby gives chase, but has his neck snapped down over the top rope for his troubles. He staggers back, and Sage re-enters the ring and immediately charges in with a running forearm strike. With Bobby wobbly, Sage grabs the top rope, springboards up on to it, and then launches himself back into the ring. He has to pivot his body in mid-air, but is able to connect with a hurricanrana that sends Dean ass over teakettle to the mat.
Nick Stuart: Sage Pontiff with an amazing display of athletic ability to correct himself in-flight for that one! And we’ve got our first cover of the match!
Nick Stuart: But Bobby Dean powers out!
Richard Parker: He must still be holding a grudge for the pop…
No one can see it, but Doug raises a single eyebrow as he waits for Richard to finish the sentence.
Richard Parker: Popppppping him before the bell, yeah. That’s what I was gonna say. One hundred percent.
While Bobby works to recover his senses, Sage once again dips out from the ring. This time he lifts the apron and appears to be searching for something underneath. When he reappears, there’s a wicked grin across his face and a black bag in his hand.
Nick Stuart: I don’t have a good feeling about this, Richard.
Richard Parker: I am reserving judgement until I see what’s in the bag, or until someone takes this collar off. Whichever comes first.
Elvis Nixon tries to prevent what happens next, but he’s not fast enough. Sage slides into the ring, unties the bag, and proceeds to dump its contents onto the mats.
And then, things get a little weird as everyone realizes what is actually covering the ring.
Richard Parker: What in Hoyt’s heaven?
Nick Stuart: Is that…
Yes, Nick. It’s rock candy. We don’t know how the bag got under the ring, or why someone would put rock candy in a bag like that to begin with, but that’s what it is. Based on Pontiff’s expression, it’s very much not what he was expecting.
Right now there is a very intense game of “Snack Or Weapon” playing out in Elvis Nixon’s mind.
Richard Parker: I can’t say what’s in my head right now and I really want to but I can’t because I hate electricity in my body!
Sage lands two kicks to Bobby Dean, before once again positioning himself near the ropes. He springboards up again and dives backwards, twisting in the air in an attempt to use his momentum to drive the beautiful man from Honalee into the pile of sugary caltrops that litter the ring.
Bobby has other ideas.
Nick Stuart: He caught him! Bobby Dean caught Sage Pontiff coming off the top, and… OH GOD!
Bobby puts his size and hidden agility on display as he manages to catch Pontiff out of the air, and in one motion twist his body and powerslam the smaller man onto the sugary shards.
There is an agonized cry that comes up from the ring on impact, but one that starts to sound almost like a laugh even as Bobby stays on top of Sage for the cover.
Nick Stuart: Bobby trying to put this one away, and I’ll be damned by Sage Pontiff is smiling!
Nick Stuart: That maniac is smiling!
But two is all that Bobby manages to get.
Both men rise, giving the audience a chance to see that there are now a few dozen pieces of crystalized candy stuck to Pontiff’s back, which has been shredded in places from the impact. But the crowd also gets to see what Nick alluded to, and that’s the smile spread across Pontiff’s lips.
The referee works quickly to get the rest of the bits out of the ring, kicking it away with his foot.
Nick Stuart: Richard, I think Sage Pontiff enjoyed what just happened.
Richard Parker: Catching diabetes?
Nick Stuart: What? No! I mean… Forget it.
Bobby presses his advantage, backing Sage into the corner and unloading with shots of his own. A series of right hands connect before Bobby grabs Pontiff by the wrist and sends him careening across the ring with an Irish whip into the opposite corner. Bobby charges after him, looking for an avalanche splash in the corner, but Pontiff is able to duck out of the way at the last second.
Nick Stuart: Sage moved. Namaste mule kick connects! Bobby is down!
Sage once more makes his way to the top rope. And with the candy now cleared from the ring, Nixon is able to refocus on the match proper.
Nick Stuart: Electric Feel!! Pontiff with the cover! This could be all!
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: The winner of this match… SAGE PONTIFF!!
Nick Stuart: A lot of heart showed by Bobby Dean after that early onslaught, but the athleticism and insane pain tolerance of Sage Pontiff was able to carry him through to victory.
Richard Parker: And now that the match is over, we can take this damn collar off of me.
Doug: Think I’m going to wait until we go to commercial.
Richard Parker: Oh you motherfu-
And with that, we cut backstage.
ARE YOU RECORDING?
Tony Gamble smiles as he watches Chandler Tsonda in front of him on his knees, polishing the face of his Gamble Championship. Domingo Cruz has his phone out recording the whole thing. Johnnie Newsman is a few feet behind Cruz, staying out of the phone’s view while still enjoying the show.
Tony Gamble: I have to say Chan Chan, I wasn’t expecting you to come here and beg me to let you touch my title…let alone ask to shine it up for me.
Chandler Tsonda: It’s the least I could do considering how far we go back, especially since I don’t have one of my own.
Tony nods, a look of disappointment on the half of his face that doesn’t always have a smile on it.
Tony Gamble: Well, FLAMBERGE is going to be a tough nut to crack for anybody on this roster, so don’t beat yourself up about it.
Chandler hands the freshly polished Gamble Championship belt back to Tony.
Chandler Tsonda: Thanks for those encouraging words, but I don’t even deserve to be in the same room with you. I’m a failure, and I should have never come back.
Tony Gamble: You’re definitely right about that, but the fact that you can admit it speaks volumes about how much you’ve grown.
Tony stands up in front of the kneeling Tsonda, the title dangling from his hand at his side.
Tony Gamble: There’s only one thing left for you to do.
“Dude, how many times have I told you: if you want to use my likeness for weird sex stuff, you’re gonna have to at least pay my licensing fee.”
Though it’s not surprising who voiced this particular set of words, the camera shows us anyway: the real deal, genuine article Chandler Tsonda.
Thus does it become clear that the “Tsonda” playing lapdog for Gamble is none other than Doppeltsonda, Jake Nguyen.
Chandler Tsonda: Looks like another successful chapter meeting of the Dipshit Society. (nods at each one of them) Cruz, Newspaper, Fuckface.
A low growl from Domingo as he lowers the phone, while a step towards Tsonda signals the possibility of violence. Gamble snaps his fingers, though, and waves Cruz off. Doppeltsonda looks a bit like he’s seen a ghost when he turns to face the Viet Viper.
Tony Gamble: (to the G.A.S) We don’t need to be worried about this Pretty Little Liar. After all, he’s just some chump who lost another big match. How’s the neck, by the way? Too soon? Yeah, so was your return.
The Sultan of Style is smiling through gritted teeth so hard that it looks like he might draw blood. But his conversation with wise Enemigo XI has him convinced of what he’s doing, so despite how much he hates it, he stands in there and keeps the peace.
Chandler Tsonda: You know what, pipsqueak? Domingo, you’re gonna wanna put that phone back up and record this because this is the one and only time I’ll say it: you’re right.
Tony Gamble: And you’re standing there without a title. What else is new?
Tony lifts the title up to his shoulder, admiring himself in the reflection for a moment.
Chandler Tsonda: (ignoring the comeback) Not only are you right, but you won in every conceivable way last week. You kept the Too Small To Ride Rollercoasters Title, and I couldn’t get in your head at ringside. Then I lost because I wanted to play mental grabass with you instead of finishing the job for the Intense Title.
Gamble looks stone-faced at Tsonda for a second.
And then bursts out laughing. This goes on for a nice long time.
Tony Gamble: (wiping tears of laughter) Domingo, please tell me you kept recording.
Cruz nods from the back, grinning.
Tony Gamble: Oh, you really are an idiot. An absolute freakin’ DUMMY. What did you think coming here and admitting that I’ve got your number was going to accomplish? Even for you, this is freakin’ embarrassing. Save it for therapy, Sir Hiss.
Chandler Tsonda: Motherfu…(takes a deep breath) Fine.
Tony Gamble: Oh come on. You’re not even gonna fight back? I’m weighed down with gold! You haven’t won a big match since One Direction broke up! The least you can do, before I re-retire you, is put up a fight.
Chandler Tsonda: Troy said no hands until Ultraviolence. Enjoy every second of peace until then. You got two weeks. And then I kick your orbital bones into the back of your skull.
Tony Gamble: Oh, I’m quivering. Nope, wait, that was just the air conditioning.
Chandler Tsonda: Two weeks.
Tony Gamble: I really expected more from you.
Chandler Tsonda: Two weeks.
Tony Gamble: Sad to see what old age and dementia do to a brain.
Chandler Tsonda: Two weeks, imp.
Tony Gamble: Can you bring some Taro pudding with tapioca, I freakin’ love that stuff.
The Model Citizen and The Grin, seemingly locked into a forever war, part ways. Tsonda throws up two fingers: maybe it’s to say deuces, maybe it’s to reiterate that they have two weeks until the showdown. Gamble & co. look satisfied, having won the battle. Next comes the war.
Elsewhere backstae, shaking the ice inside a plastic cup, Hayes Hanlon tips back the final sips of his beverage before tossing it into a nearby trash can.
One hand retreating into the pocket of his black slacks, and the other retrieving his phone, he absently scrolls away as he wanders down the hall.
An intersection interrupts his gait, and he lifts his eyes from the screen.
They glance to the right. Toward the Argyle position. The curtain. To watch Youngblood and TAL battle the Bayou Butcher and the Russian Bear.
He takes the initial steps down the right hallway.
A squint at the phone screen, then a look over his shoulder, down the hallway in the other direction.
A sigh under his breath.
Hayes Hanlon: Screw it.
He stuffs the phone in his pocket, and walks away to the left.
We then cut to our final commercial of the evening.
COMMERCIAL: ULTRAVIOLENCE NIGHT TWO MAIN EVENTS
BRANDON YOUNGBLOOD/THE ANGLO LUCHADOR vs. IVAN STANISLAV/PAXTON RAY
We return from commercial to see Vince Howard standing in the center of the ring.
Vince Howard: The following match is our MAIN! EVENT!
Oh shit. Is the crowd in Detroit ready for Malice at the Palace Part Two?
Nick Stuart: One hell of a main event that we have for you folks tonight!
Richard Parker: Batten down the hatches, hide your wife, hide your kids because if you thought Ben Wallace and Ron Artest was a Detroit brawl, you’ve seen nothing yet.
See? Richard is picking up what I’m putting down.
Nick Stuart: The team of Paxton Ray and Ivan Stanislav though, can you count on them? Are they going to be able to co-exist?
Richard Parker: In a perfect world, they maim each other and we don’t have to deal with either of them again.
Nick Stuart: And then on the other side of the fence, you’ve got The Anglo Luchador and Brandon Youngblood.
Richard Parker: In a perfect world, they maim each other and we don’t have to deal with either of them again.
Nick Stuart: …
Seriously, Richard. Alright, get these folks in the ring, Vincey boy.
Vince Howard: Introducing the first tag team… first out, hailing from Lafayette, Louisiana…
Vince Howard: He is the BAYOU BUTCHER!
Vince Howard: PAXTON! RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!
“They say it’s good to start a story with a tragedy.”
The chunky guitar riff of “Fistfight” by The Ballroom Thieves kicks in as Paxton Ray walks out under the PRIMEView with Foster Nackedy behind him wearing his disco concussion helmet. Paxton sneers as the fans boo, then slowly holds his hand up in the air.
The day I finally met you like I knew I would
You raised me from the wreck of my doubts
You were smiling to yourself as if we both understood
The silent language of the anguish of a heart that sings but doesn’t make a sound
Foster gets ahead of Paxton, jeering at fans and shaking his head as if to show off his lovely helmet. Paxton slowly walks towards the ring, looking around as the crowd rains hate down upon him. He steps up to the apron and steps over the ring ropes, then leans back against them and closes his eyes.
Nick Stuart: The fans here in Detroit letting their feelings about Paxton out.
Richard Parker: I think outside of Russia and North Korea, everyone would be booing against him.
Vince Howard: And his tag team partner…
Vince Howard: Hailing from Arkhangelsk, Russia….
Vince Howard: THE RUSSIAN BEAR! IVAN! STANISLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAV!
“The Soviet National Anthem” by the Russian Red Army Choir erupts as Ivan Stanislav and Alexei Rulsan emerge from the backstage area. Stanislav and Ruslan raise their arms, side by side, roar at the crowd, and pointedly make their way towards the ring. Stanislav points and jaws at several fans along the way, while Ruslan points and hawks at the greatness of the Russian Bear.
Stanislav steps over the top rope and thunders into the ring. He raises his arms over his head and bellows at the camera.
Nick Stuart: Talking about people who would only be cheered in North Korea and Russia.
Richard Parker: Do you think if Ivan wins at UltraViolence, that Lindsay Troy would do shows in Russia and North Korea?
Nick Stuart: Are you trying to get owled?
Richard Parker: Yeah, forget I said anything.
Vince Howard: And their opponents!
The hard-driving guitar of Local H, “Cynic” hits over the PA.
Nick Stuart: New but familiar entrance music for The Anglo Luchador for tonight’s main event, Richard.
Richard Parker: For once, I agree with a decision he’s made in dropping that other song by that creepazoid, but he made a mistake going with whoever this band is when Solid Gold Rock ‘n Roll was right there! “The Reaming” from Forge Cycle Pt. 1 is NATURAL entrance music.
Nick Stuart: Don’t start with this again.
As Scott Lucas’ first “YEAH!” hits, The Luchador steps from the back, visibly exhaling from deep in his gut. He looks around the Little Caesars Arena, taking in the throng of PRIMEates cheering him and his yet-to-enter partner, the Universal Champion.
Richard Parker: One thing that might cost the team coming out now, do you think there’s any resentment between TAL and Youngblood here?
Nick Stuart: If there is, they had some time to work it out. The Luchador went out to Wisconsin, and they trained, communed. They’re still good friends out of the ring. Besides, all the hate is on the other side of the ring.
Vince Howard: And their opponents! First, hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and weighing in at 211 pounds. He is the first Intense Champion of the ReVival and the Last Champion of Tenochtitlan… The Anglo…. LUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCHADOOOOOOOOOORRRRR!!!
The Luchador slaps hands of various fans on the way down to the ring and stops midway down the ramp. “Cynic” fades out. And then it’s time for HEALTH, and the fans sing along.
BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD
SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE
Youngblood steps out from behind the curtain, Universal Championship strapped around his waist. He mouths the next line.
LET THE GALAXY BUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRRRRRRRNNNNNNN
Vince Howard: And his partner, hailing from Bandera, Texas, by way of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, weighing in at 265 pounds, he is both the first and the current reigning and defending Universal Champion of the ReVival… he is Brandon… YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOUNGBLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!
Nick Stuart: Listen to the reaction for the Universal Champion! They want him to get his hands on the Russian Bear!
Richard Parker: Be careful what you wish for, Nick. WE don’t know what kind of superior training regiment Ivan has, plus he’s got Paxton Ray by his side. I’m not sure the Diamond can count on the Luchador in the face of such terror.
Nick Stuart: You do realize the Anglo Luchador held the Intense Championship for half a year, right?
Richard Parker: Well, what has he done lately?
Youngblood stalks down the ramp with purpose until he gets to where the Luchador is waiting. They give each other a knowing stare. The Luchador nods first, and the Diamond follows. They bump fists.
Nick Stuart: Well, that should answer your question.
Richard Parker: For the first time, I question Brandon Youngblood’s judgment.
The Champion and the Luchador complete their entrance to the ring and hop on the apron with their opponents chomping at the bit.
Timo Bolamba issues his final set of instructions as TAL and Youngblood step into the ring. He then signals for the start of the match.
At the sound of the bell, Ivan Stanislav steps through the ropes and stands on the ring apron while Youngblood points to the corner for TAL to step out of the ring, who doesn’t seem interested in doing so, but does so anyways. Youngblood then marches towards the center of the ring and pushes Paxton out of the way, wanting a piece of Stanislav. Paxton grabs him by the shoulder and spins him around only for Youngblood to connect with a stiff right forearm to the face that rocks Paxton. Youngblood turns his attention back to Stanislav, wanting him to get back into the ring. With his attention diverted, Youngblood is met with a running clothesline to the back of the neck by the Bayou Butcher.
Nick Stuart: You know, while Brandon was trying to cool off Anglo Luchador’s temper, he’s got one of his own and it cost him right there as Paxton Ray mows him down.
Richard Parker: Both of these men are blinded by their rage and hatred of their opponents tonight and it’s not going to benefit them in the long run.
Nick Stuart: Normally, Youngblood keeps his emotions in check–
Richard Parker: –usually.
Paxton plants his boot repeatedly into the small of Youngblood’s back, who pushes himself up using his forearms before returning to a vertical base. Paxton’s relentless though in his attacks as he pushes Youngblood into the ropes. Ray grabs Youngblood by his wrist and goes to whip Youngblood into the ropes only for Youngblood to reverse it and Ray is met with a knee to the midsection for his troubles. With Ray doubled over, Youngblood slams his forearm into Paxton’s spine, dropping him to one knee. Youngblood then puts him into a front facelock and connects with a vertical suplex.
Richard Parker: Youngblood getting back in the groove there.
Nick Stuart: Youngblood needs this match tonight to get warmed up for his massive main event in two weeks time, hailing from Chicago. He’s only wrestled once in the past couple of months and that person he faced is his tag partner tonight.
Richard Parker: Youngblood might appreciate the slower pace and a match here and there as he gets older.
Nick Stuart: You want to tell that to his face?
Richard Parker: Nah, I’m good.
With Paxton on the mat, Youngblood gets back up to his feet and walks over to Stanislav, with the two trading barbs back at one another. Once again, Youngblood’s back is to Paxton, who takes the opening and connects with a running splash into the corner, with Youngblood’s chest colliding with the top turnbuckle. Youngblood remains dazed in the corner as Paxton clubs Youngblood repeatedly in the back of the neck before tagging in Stanislav. Ivan, chuckling to himself, steps over the top rope and connects with an open-handed palm strike to the back of the Universal Champion. The shot drops Youngblood to both knees.
Nick Stuart: Well, Youngblood’s focus lasted for a short bit.
Richard Parker: And came back to bite him. At least he gets what he wants now.
Nick Stuart: I don’t think this is the way he wanted it though.
Richard Parker: What, you mean you don’t think he wanted to get pelted with the righteous right hand of Stalin to his back? Whatever gave you that impression?
Ivan then reaches down and pulls Youngblood up to his feet before turning him around and pushing him into the corner. Ivan’s massive hand comes crashing down palm-first onto the chest of Youngblood, sending a reverberation throughout the crowd. Youngblood grimaces from the pain, but quickly switches positions with Ivan, pushing him into the corner, and connecting with a knife-edge chop. While the sound echoes throughout the Little Caesars Arena, there is no emotion on Ivan’s face, who proceeds to connect with a head butt that drops Youngblood backwards. The Universal Champion rolls through it to his knees and sees a charging-at-him Stanislav and drives his shoulder into the midsection of the upcoming challenger for his title.
Richard Parker: Nice quick thinking there from Youngblood. He’s going to need to stay light on his toes tonight and in two weeks time.
Nick Stuart: The fact that the knife-edge chop seemingly didn’t even phase Ivan is something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before.
Richard Parker: You come across a barrel-chest like that and you might not know what pain is either.
Nick Stuart: And what do you know about it?
Richard Parker: …nothing.
The shot drops Ivan to one knee. Youngblood slams his forearm across the upper back and neck of the Russian Bear before yanking him up to his feet and whipping him into the ropes. As Ivan bounces off the ropes, Youngblood lifts him up and plants him in the center of the ring with a spinebuster. Youngblood rolls off of Stanislav and tags in The Anglo Luchador, who immediately climbs to the top turnbuckle and connects with a leg drop across the throat of the Russian Bear. He quickly goes for the cover, doing everything he can to hook both legs at the same time as Timo begins his count.
Nick Stuart: Not even close to putting Stanislav down.
Richard Parker: I don’t know why people don’t listen to me, but I’ve been advocating hitting Ivan with tranquilizers for months now. How else do you expect to put someone like him down?
Nick Stuart: Not many have been able to do it in the past year. Only one, actually. And that was a year ago at UltraViolence and that man’s name… Hayes Hanlon.
Richard Parker: And none have done it since. I rest my case!
TAL gets back up to his feet in a hurry, planting his boot into the torso of the challenger for the Universal Title before he bounces off the ropes and drops an elbow across his sternum. Ivan sits up, having brushed it off like an annoying gnat. TAL begins to club him with a series of forearm strikes across his shoulders and neck, but Stanislav continues to rise to his feet before driving his fist into the midsection of the former Intense Champion. TAL drops to one knee from the shot, but Ivan then grabs him by the wrist and whips him into the ropes. Ivan goes for a clothesline, but TAL rolls underneath it. As Stanislav spins around, TAL rolls into a springboard crossbody that Ivan catches in mid-air. He holds him there for a moment before dropping him with a sidewalk slam.
Richard Parker: Now, light on his toes action from The Anglo Luchador isn’t going to quite cut it here.
Nick Stuart: Well, you’ve gotta make sure you put yourself in a position to not get caught and sidewalk slammed like TAL just did there.
Richard Parker: TAL is letting his emotions drive him.
Nick Stuart: You’re not going to do the Jedi Dark Sith speech here, are you?
Richard Parker: …I’m not anymore.
As TAL rolls around on the ground, feeling the waves of pain through his body from being slammed by the Russian Bear, Ivan is back up on his feet and plants his foot onto the chest of the former Intense Champion. He stands there for a moment, his eyes locked upon Youngblood, who is shaking his head. Ivan then steps fully onto the chest of TAL and stands there for two seconds before stepping off. TAL rolls around on the mat, clutching at his chest as Youngblood and Stanislav’s eyes remain locked.
Nick Stuart: Sheer brutality there from Ivan Stanislav! There was no need to do that to TAL and he might have caused serious damage, internal bleeding, to the former Intense Champion!
Richard Parker: This is all about sending a message to Youngblood. That he is bigger than just about anyone that Youngblood his face, he’s stronger, and he’s more vicious. If there’s anyone that Youngblood doesn’t want to step into the ring with, it’s Stanislav.
Nick Stuart: Yeah, I don’t think that is the case there. Youngblood is chomping at the bit.
Richard Parker: Chomping at the bit until Ivan knocks all of his teeth loose.
Stanislav turns around to catch a rising TAL and slams his fist into his jaw. TAL stumbles away from Stanislav and into the corner. Ivan slowly stalks his prey before slamming him in the corner with an elbow across the chest and throat. TAL doubles over from the pain before Ivan grabs him by the wrist and whips him into the opposite corner as hard as he can. TAL’s back explodes into the corner and he collapses onto the mat, his body wracked with pain. Stanislav walks over and grinds the back of his boot into the back of TAL’s skull before looking over at Youngblood, stone faced and pleased with what he’s doing.
Richard Parker: The mind games of Ivan Stanislav are glorious, no matter how much I despise the man himself.
Nick Stuart: Why exactly do you despise him?
Richard Parker: Communism is for wimps!
Nick Stuart: Alright then, going to end up in a Twitter war over this. TAL needs to figure out a game plan and fast at that because he might not be in any condition to walk out of here tonight, much less face off against Paxton Ray.
Richard Parker: Something tells me that would be a massive disappointment to The Anglo Luchador.
Ivan reaches down and yanks TAL up to his feet. He pushes him into the ropes and then goes to whip him across the ring. TAL goes to reverse it, but as he tries to yank Ivan, the Russian Bear doesn’t budget. Instead, Ivan yanks TAL into him and hoists him on his left shoulder. He walks effortlessly around the ring with TAL on his shoulder before he goes to drop him jaw first onto the top turnbuckle. TAL though manages to slip out behind TAL and uses his strength to shove Ivan into the corner as hard as he can. Ivan collides chest first with the corner while TAL bounces off the ropes and leaps as high as he can before connecting with a leg drop across the back of Ivan’s neck, driving him down to the mat.
Nick Stuart: They say white men can’t jump, but TAL just leaped as if he’s been infused with the blood of Michael Jordan!
Richard Parker: Who says white men can’t jump? Did you see who just won the Slam Dunk competition?
Nick Stuart: …just? It’s been like 8 months since that happened. Where have you been?
Richard Parker: I don’t know, Lindsay Troy doesn’t let me out much from the cage she keeps me in– I mean, I have important things to do in my life, Nick!
TAL takes a moment to gather his bearings and begins to crawl back towards his corner as Youngblood cheers him on, clapping his hands, and has his hand outstretched. As he is mere fingertips away from Youngblood, Paxton rushes into the ring and clubs TAL in the back of the head.
TAL collapses onto the mat as Paxton then drives his forearm into the face of the Universal Champion, sending him careening off the ring apron and onto the floor. Paxton then gets a few stomps to the back of TAL’s head while Timo admonishes him and orders him out of the ring. Stanislav gets back up to his feet, shaking his head in the process to clear the cobwebs, and drags TAL over to his corner before tagging in Paxton Ray.
Richard Parker: Smart thinking there from Paxton Ray.
Nick Stuart: …are you complimenting Paxton Ray?
Richard Parker: Look, just calling it like I see it.
Nick Stuart: Well, TAL had the opening he needed and Paxton Ray shut the door on him pretty quickly. And now… he gets what he’s wanted. His hands on The Anglo Luchador.
Ray steps through the ropes with a grin on his face as if he’s the first one in line for the good brisket. TAL, still on the mat, is unable to block Paxton as he reaches down and wraps his arm around the former Intense Champion’s pants/covering that is covering his lower back. Paxton yanks up as hard as he can and holds him in mid-air before spinning him around and tossing him onto the mat, with TAL landing with a hard thud. Paxton walks up to him and smacks him around the back of his head a bit before he walks over to Youngblood, finger pointed in his face. Youngblood smacks it down and the two begin jawing off with one another. Paxton shakes his head as he turns around and proceeds to punt TAL as hard as he can in the ribcage.
Richard Parker: Paxton Ray over here playing with his dinner, it seems like.
Nick Stuart: Punishing blows from Paxton, punting TAL again in the ribcage. He’s trying to extract as much pain and damage as possible.
Richard Parker: Considering that TAL was hiding his kid, it’s not hard to understand why Paxton would want to do so.
Nick Stuart: Not hard to understand, but also, knowing Paxton, he doesn’t need a reason to inflict damage on someone.
Richard Parker: Fair enough.
Paxton reaches down and pulls the dazed TAL off of the mat and drills him in the back of the neck and skull with a forearm shot that causes concern in the eyes of Timo Bolamba, who immediately checks on The Luchador. Paxton brushes Timo away and yanks TAL off of the mat and pushes him into the corner before slapping the shit out of TAL’s chest, the sound echoing throughout the Little Caesars Arena as if a gun had been fired. TAL groans in pain, but then fires off a boot into the midsection of the cocky Paxton Ray, catching him by surprise. TAL then does a standing switch with Paxton, pushing him into the corner before unloading on him with a series of rights that stun the Bayou Butcher.
Nick Stuart: And now The Anglo Luchador fighting back here! You have to imagine how good this feels.
Richard Parker: We all witnessed the brutality of what Paxton did to TAL’s brother, each shot has to feel better than the last.
Nick Stuart: Well, probably not for Paxton.
Richard Parker: Do we care about that?
With the opening in sight, TAL grabs Paxton by the wrist and whips him into the ropes. He goes for a spinning back elbow, but Paxton ducks underneath it. As TAL turns around, Paxton roars back at him off the opposite ropes with a clothesline that flips TAL inside out. The former Intense Champion tries to bounce back up to his feet in a hurry though and is met with a boot between the eyes from the Bayou Butcher. TAL scrambles to his feet again only for Paxton to connect with a headbutt followed by a trio of successive elbows across his sternum before going for the cover.
Richard Parker: TAL gets the shoulder up just in the nick of time. Foolish of him though to keep the war up with Paxton instead of tagging in the fresher Youngblood.
Nick Stuart: This is the danger spot for TAL and Youngblood, because they both want their opponents in the ring so bad, they’re willing to wade through deep waters to get there. Case in point.
Richard Parker: Exactly and it can come back to bite them, costing them this match.
Nick Stuart: You can see that TAL was starting to get his second wind and Paxton snuffed it out quickly.
Paxton drags TAL to the nearby corner, plants his boot into TAL’s midsection twice, before climbing up to the nearby turnbuckle. As he stands on the second turnbuckle, his back to the former Intense Champion, he grabs the top rope and then leaps backwards into a splash, slamming his entire body into the body of The Anglo Luchador. He immediately hooks the leg for the cover as Timo begins his count.
Nick Stuart: And another kickout from The Anglo Luchador, though he knows he can’t keep withstanding this kind of damage from Paxton.
Richard Parker: Not if you don’t enjoy being splashed by a two-hundred-and-fifty pound beast like Paxton.
Nick Stuart: Plus, TAL has to think about his match against Paxton in two weeks time.
Richard Parker: Exactly, this is Paxton setting up TAL for right where he wants him going into Chicago.
Paxton Ray shakes his head as he tags back in Ivan Stanislav. Ivan steps over the top rope and drags TAL to his feet before pushing him into the ropes. He then whips TAL into the ropes and connects with a shoulder tackle that sends TAL stumbling backwards into the ropes. TAL leans against the ropes before looking at his right. Ivan then looks over and sees TAL is inches away from Brandon Youngblood. TAL leaps with all of his might, his fingertips just grazing those of the Universal Title Holder as the Little Caesars Arena comes unglued.
Nick Stuart: Massive mistake there by the Russian Bear!
Richard Parker: Yeah, I don’t know how The Anglo Luchador managed to stay on his feet and put himself in the position where he could make that tag, but that was a much needed gamchanger for the team.
Nick Stuart: I think even TAL was surprised.
Richard Parker: Yeah, you don’t expect to stay standing when a bear gets his claws on you.
Youngblood rushes into the ring with a fury like never seen before as he slams his forearm into the face of Stanislav, stunning the Russian Bear. The Bayou Butcher rushes into the ring, but catches a headbutt from the Universal Champion before he connects with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex that launches Paxton across the ring. Brandon gets back up to his feet and drives a chop into the barrel-chest of his opponent at UltraViolence before snapping a forearm across the jaw and neck of the Russian Bear. Youngblood takes a few steps backwards and launches himself at Stanislav, sending both men crashing over the top rope and to the outside!
Nick Stuart: Well, I think Timo is about to lose all control of this match.
Richard Parker: You think? Detroit is about to get up close and personal with two of the beefiest men in the state of Michigan!
Nick Stuart: Stanislav is reeling and Youngblood smells blood in the water.
Richard Parker: Good. Now do something about it.
The Anglo Luchador grabs the leg of a rising Paxton Ray from the outside and trips him up, sending him crashing to the mat. TAL then hops onto the ring apron, sluggish, but unwilling to give the moment up as he springboards off the top rope and connects with a leg drop across the back of Paxton Ray’s neck. Outside of the ring, Youngblood connects with the sole of his boot into the chest of Stanislav, staggering the Russian Bear. Brandon pulls Stanislav up to his feet and whips him into the ringside barricade, shaking it from one end to the other from the sheer magnitude of his impact.
Nick Stuart: The team of Youngblood and TAL rising to the challenge and taking it to Stanislav and Paxton.
Richard Parker: I’m just concerned that if anyone was leaning on that barricade that they may have a spinal injury!
Nick Stuart: The fans here in Detroit seem to be enjoying it very much as the road to UltraViolence is almost complete.
TAL flips Paxton Ray over and begins driving forearm after forearm into his face, a rage unlocked in him after everything he’s been through with Paxton, the latest of which being the actions of Paxton on his brother, Mikey. His boot, filled with those memories, connects with the side of Paxton’s skull, sending him rolling out underneath the bottom rope. Meanwhile, Youngblood tries to whip Stanislav into the ring apron, but Stanislav reverses it and Youngblood’s lower back collides with it instead, dropping the Universal Champion to one knee.
Richard Parker: I feel like Stanislav whipping someone into the edge of the ring like that is the equivalent of a bear throwing you thirty feet. It has to feel the same.
Nick Stuart: Do you want to try it out for us? You know, in the name of science?
Richard Parker: No, I’m good.
Nick Stuart: Meanwhile, the intensity from The Anglo Luchador has gone up another level. He wants to make sure that Paxton doesn’t make it to Chicago in one piece.
The Anglo Luchador then bounces off the ropes and connects with a suicide dive onto the rising body of Paxton Ray, which sends him stumbling into the ringside barricade. With a head of momentum in his favor, TAL rushes back into the ring and bounces off the ropes again, going for another suicide dive, but this time the Bayou Butcher catches him with a forearm across the face as he sails through between the top and middle rope. Butcher then grabs him by the throat and chokeslams him onto the ringside barricade, leaving his body strewn across the top of it.
Richard Parker: Get a stretcher out here and call him DOA, because the Bayou Butcher just wrecked The Anglo Luchador.
Nick Stuart: That was absolutely brutal from Paxton and you wouldn’t expect anything less from him.
Richard Parker: Seriously, that’s a wrap on TAL tonight and maybe for a while. His body is mangled worse than being in a car crash.
Stanislav plants his boot into the face of Youngblood, causing blood to start trickling out of his nose. This only infuriates Youngblood as he explodes from the kneeling position and tackles Stanislav into the ringside barricade. Stanislav, wind driven out of him from the shot, slams his forearm across the upper back of the Universal Champion. Youngblood grabs Ivan by the wrist and whips him into the steel post, with the Russian Bear colliding hard into it. Ivan turns around to see Youngblood driving at him with a spear and steps out of the way, causing the left shoulder to collide with the steel ring post.
Richard Parker: And things are going from bad to worse for the team of Youngblood and The Anglo Luchador!
Nick Stuart: Youngblood is down on the mat, clutching at his shoulder right now. That’s not a good sign.
Richard Parker: Talk about understatement. Ivan is going to focus solely on that shoulder and probably rip Youngblood’s arm off for good measure.
Ivan wastes no time capitalizing on the mistake made by Youngblood as he grabs his left arm and yanks him towards him, slamming his own meaty shoulder into Brandon’s. Youngblood drops to one knee, but Ivan yanks him back up and hoists him onto his shoulder before connecting with a shoulderbreaker to the now-injured left shoulder of the Universal Champion. Ivan then stands above the fallen champion. Meanwhile, Paxton Ray is climbing onto the ringside barricade and pulls TAL up with him. He plants his boot into the midsection of TAL and hoists him up for a powerbomb only for TAL to fire back with a series of strikes to the forehead. With Paxton stunned, TAL connects with a hurricanrana on the barricade.
Nick Stuart: The action is frenetic between the four men as Ivan is trying his best to destroy Youngblood’s shoulder heading into their big main event at UltraViolence in two weeks time.
Richard Parker: Can’t say I blame him.
Nick Stuart: Meanwhile, TAL with a hurricananran ON the barricade.
Richard Parker: I’ve seen a lot of shit in my time, but that’s one of those moments that you just can’t believe you saw.
Ivan places his boot onto the left shoulder of Youngblood and steps on it, increasing the pressure ever so slightly. Youngblood thrashes against the boot of the Russian Bear, but to no avail as Ivan strives to deliver as much damage as he possibly can. Meanwhile, TAL catches Paxton with a dropkick that sends him over the barricade. Paxton stumbles to his feet, grabbing the ring post, while TAL flies off the barricade and looks for a flying crossbody only for Paxton to duck and sends TAL crashing into the ring post.
Richard Parker: Oof! Go for the flippy doo moves one too many times and that’s what is bound to happen!
Nick Stuart: TAL hit the ring post hard and he might have knocked himself out of this match.
Richard Parker: Meanwhile, we may be seeing the final days of the Youngblood reign in PRIME as Stanislav is continuing to size up his foe and decimate him in the process.
Nick Stuart: Youngblood needs to do something and fast before his left arm is just hanging there when he comes out in Chicago.
Stanislav reaches down and pulls Youngblood up to his feet and drives him left shoulder first into the ring post. Brandon stumbles away from Ivan, but Stanislav follows after him and grabs him by the back of the skull and slams him face first into the ring apron. Youngblood stumbles away into the ringside barricade as Stanislav sizes him before exploding out of a three-point stance and goes to tackle Youngblood through the barricade. Except, the Universal Champion explodes towards Stanislav and manages to hoist him into the air and drops him onto the padded concrete with a spinebuster that nearly shakes the arena to its foundation.
Richard Parker: EARTHQUAKE! IN DETROIT!
Nick Stuart: That’s not an earthquake.
Richard Parker: Don’t tell me lies, I felt it!
Nick Stuart: That was Youngblood connecting with a spinebuster on Stanisalv.
Richard Parker: That makes even less sense!
Paxton rolls back into the ring and Youngblood does so at the same time, trading punches with each other immediately. Youngblood gets the upperhand on Paxton and pushes him into the corner with each jaw-rattling shot from the Universal Champion. Brandon then cracks Paxton across the chest with a knife-edge chop. Ray stumbles out of the corner and Youngblood pursues him before whipping Paxton into the ropes. Paxton comes flying back though with a flying forearm that sends the Universal Champion to the mat. Youngblood stumbles back to his feet quickly though, only to be met with an uppercut that sends him stumbling into the ropes.
Nick Stuart: What a shot from Paxton Ray, laying everything he had into that shot! He’s taking it to the Universal Champion, who is worse for wear right now.
Richard Parker: He needs to get out of the way because he’s going to end up doing more damage to himself and look… do any of us want to see the Universal Championship become the color red?
Nick Stuart: You don’t think he will, do you?
Richard Parker: Everything is possible.
Paxton rushes full speed at Youngblood only for the Universal Champion to dip his shoulder and send the Bayou Butcher over the top rope and onto the ring apron. Paxton slowly rises to his feet and is met with a right hand from Youngblood. Paxton fires off a headbutt that stuns him. Paxton then grabs the stunned Youngblood and tries to suplex him to the outside, but Youngblood manages to block him and slams his fist into the ribcage of Paxton instead. With Ray stunned, The Anglo Luchador runs around the side of the ring and connects with a dropkick to the right leg of the Bayou Butcher, dropping him to one knee. TAL then slides back into the ring and bounces off the ropes before connecting with a spear to Paxton, sending both men crashing to the outside!
Richard Parker: And The Anglo Luchador saves the day.
Nick Stuart: The fact that he was able to get his body up high enough to drop kick the right leg of Paxton Ray, as he stood on the ring apron is wild.
Richard Parker: What’s wild is that any of these four men are standing. How are they going to compete in two weeks time?
Youngblood kneels on the ring apron only for Stanislav to pelt him in the face with a meaty right hand. Brandon rolls off of the ring apron before being assaulted by a series of kicks to his damaged left shoulder. Stanislav drags the Universal Champion around the ring towards the steel steps only for Youngblood to slip out of his grasp and push him knees first into the steel ring steps. Stanislav howls out in pain as Youngblood kicks repeatedly into the back of Stanislav’s knees, sending the giant to one knee. Youngblood grabs the back of Stanislav’s head and slams him face-first into the steel steps.
Nick Stuart: And Youngblood delivering it right back to Stanislav!
Richard Parker: These two are going to be broken and battered going into UltraViolence!
Nick Stuart: I don’t think that Paxton and TAL are going to be any better.
Richard Parker: And another shot from Youngblood to Stanislav on the steel steps!
Youngblood attempts to pull Stanislav up to his feet and lift him into the air with a side suplex, but his left shoulder gives out on him and he drops to one knee, rubbing at the shoulder. Stanislav, seeing his opening, smashes his boot into the face of the Universal Champion. Brandon rolls over, in a world of pain, but Stanislav grabs him and yanks him to his feet before driving an elbow into the left shoulder of the Universal Champion. Stanislav then whips Youngblood into the steel steps, with Youngblood’s left shoulder colliding with the steel steps, leaving the Universal Champion in a world of pain.
Nick Stuart: Oh no, he may have done serious damage to the left shoulder of the Universal Champion after whipping him into the steel steps that way.
Richard Parker: This is why you don’t involve steel steps into anything. This is all Youngblood’s fault!
Nick Stuart: Yes, because there’s no way that Ivan wouldn’t have eventually gone there.
Richard Parker: I mean, Ivan has definitely shown himself to be a measured, composed individual. /s
The Anglo Luchador rushes around the ring and connects with a flying clothesline to the back of Ivan’s neck. TAL plants his boot repeatedly into the midsection of the Russian Bear before pushing him into the ring under the bottom rope. As he does so, Timo exits to check on Brandon Youngblood. TAL plants boot after boot across the face of Stanislav. As he does, Paxton Ray slips into the ring and slams his forearm into the back of TAL’s neck. He then spins TAL around and goes for the Discus Elbow, but TAL manages to duck underneath it. He then lifts Paxton up and connects with the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex!
Nick Stuart: JAPANESE OCEAN CYCLONE SUPLEX TO PAXTON RAY!
Richard Parker: Could that be a sign of what’s to come in two weeks?! And who even are the legal men here?! Can TAL pin Paxton?!
Nick Stuart: Just one problem…
Richard Parker: What’s that?
Nick Stuart: Timo is on the outside.
Richard Parker: YOUNGBLOOD RUINS EVERYTHING!
With no referee in the ring, TAL walks over to the edge of the ring and asks Timo if Youngblood is okay. He is given a thumbs up and Timo begins to stand up as if he’s heading back to the ring. As TAL turns around though, he is belted in the face with the Universal Championship by Foster Nackedy! Foster quickly slips out of the ring, dazed, as Ivan then connects with The Red Scare!
Nick Stuart: WHERE THE HELL DID FOSTER COME FROM?!
Richard Parker: Hell?
Ivan walks over to the broken body of The Anglo Luchador and covers him as Timo slides into the ring and begins his count.
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: Your winners by pinfall… Ivan Stanislav and Paxton Ray!
Nick Stuart: What a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach right now. Is this what’s going to come at Ultraviolence? New Universal Champion? Paxton Ray murdering The Anglo Luchador?
Richard Parker: You have to come prepared for any and everything, Nick.
Ivan rises to his feet, a grin on his face as he holds both of his arms up high.
Beneath him, The Anglo Luchador looks beaten and battered.
Paxton is getting up to his feet and looks over at TAL, a wicked smile on his face.
And on the outside, Youngblood is sitting up, clutching his shoulder, and looking like he’s in no shape to compete.
Nick Stuart: In two weeks time, we’ve got ULTRAVIOLENCE! For two nights! Be there! Or watch on the ACE Network!
Richard Parker: Come prepared to have your dreams crushed and broken.
Nick Stuart: Oh shut up. For Nick Stuart, I’m Richard Parker. Good night everyone!
Our final image is of Ivan and Youngblood, eyes locked, ready for war.