THE SPICY OPEN
It’s a fairly innocuous shot to open a show, but it gets a reaction from the crowd nonetheless. Jared Sykes walks alone down a corridor in street clothes – nothing fancy, since he’s not wrestling tonight. There’s a gear bag slung over one shoulder. He’s not paying any attention to what’s going on around him; instead his eyes are trained on the phone in his right hand.
Jared Sykes: What the… Oh now he’s got things to say?
Judging by his reaction, whatever’s coming through isn’t something he’s keen on reading.
Jared Sykes: (sighing) Jesus H.
He steps to the side and lets the bag slide from his shoulder before furiously tapping a response. If it’s anything like most of the messages he sends it’ll be written quickly, there’ll be no punctuation of any kind, and at least three words will be misspelled.
…a similar corridor, with a similar situation, with a familiar Event Horizon making his own way in a similar fashion.
Kentucky, let ‘im know.
Regardless of a chorus of boos in the background, Hayes Hanlon is more interested in the phone buzzing in his hand. He peers down at the screen, and offers a sneer.
Hayes Hanlon: Oh, now he wants to get chatty?
Hammerin’ Hayes drops his duffel back, and thuds against the wall, thumbs tapping and swiping.
Hayes Hanlon: Auto-correct has been a thing for a while. Idiot.
Jared leans down to grab his bag from the floor when the phone vibrates in his hand. He doesn’t need to see the notification to know who it’s from.
Jared Sykes: That motherf…
His train of thought is momentarily diverted by a member of the production staff walking by. A quick nod of acknowledgement later, and Jared is back to machine-gunning a response.
Jared Sykes: Wonder if there’s a dumpster nearby Violent Purple can toss him into. Nah, he might enjoy it.
Hayes Hanlon: What a DICK…
The Comeback Kid’s ‘stache curls with contempt, and his blazing thumbs glide across his phone at lightning pace.
A member of production staff…oddly familiar…strolls by, but Hayes pays them no mind.
Hayes Hanlon: I wonder if this place has some kind of childcare, that’d be a good place for him to cry his eyes out…
Jared Sykes: Oh, because that’s original. I swear to god, this fuckin’ kid…
Fingers hit the glass with enough force that they might crack the screen. Jared, clearly frustrated with the situation, begins speaking to himself.
Jared Sykes: This is what I get for trying to…
His cheeks flush when his eyes catch something else on the device.
Jared Sykes: Yes, I know the show is live.
And still, his eyes dart around looking for the camera – any camera – that might be filming this.
Hayes Hanlon: Seriously? You freakin’ tool…
Having had quite enough, Hayes pokes a sturdy finger into his screen hard, then tucks it into the back pocket of his slacks. He picks up his duffel bag, taking strides the down the hall.
Hayes Hanlon: Dude will never get the…
As he rounds a corner, he’s stopped dead in his tracks, nearly walking square into the chest of…
Hayes Hanlon: …point.
Jared Sykes: Really?
Despite the situation, there’s a noticeable change in Jared’s posture from just a moment ago. He looks almost relaxed, at ease. Hands stuffed into his pockets. Shoulders loose.
But it’s a mirage, a ruse. Anyone who’s watched his career long enough can tell you that it’s the same stance he takes when he thinks there might be a fight, to make himself look unassuming and unprepared for what might go down.
Jared Sykes: Then let’s pretend I’m an idiot, and you go ahead and explain it reeeeeeaal slow.
Hayes scans the Dragonslayer, eyeing him up and down. He knows how Jared works; the relaxed stance only a mask for the combatant behind. And yet, instead of moving into any sort of guard, Hayes casually sets his bag to the floor, puts both hands into his black slacks…
Hayes Hanlon: I’m sure you’d like that. Problem is, I don’t think I have anything to explain.
Jared Sykes: Right, right, rightrightright. My mistake. How could I forget? You covered this all in your little Night Two pizza party, or whatever the hell that was.
Hayes Hanlon: I wouldn’t call that “pizza,” but yeah, I think I kinda covered it.
An awkward, tense silence follows. Hayes, showing hints of frustration, scratches the back of his head.
Hayes Hanlon: Dude, we don’t have to do this shit, you know. We can go our own way, do our own thing. Maybe we wind up in the tournament finals and we can sort it out then.
Jared Sykes: “We” didn’t have to do a lot of things, but here we are all the same.
Jared runs a hand along his face before scratching at the layer of stubble on his chin.
Jared Sykes: And since we’re here, I might as well ask… You getting what you thought you would out of the deal? Have to listen to any of Joe and Sid’s wild-ass stories yet? Makin’ sure FLAMBO gets enough greens?
He pulls his hand away to reveal a mischievous grin.
Jared Sykes: How is life these days as the Substitute Tyler?
Hanlon’s jaw goes taut, and his nostrils flare. His previously relaxed posture has tensed.
And he takes a step forward.
Hayes Hanlon: I don’t think “substitute” is the right word. I’d call it an “upgrade.” Kinda like you, when you finally took that stupid fucking mask off.
The ‘stache flinches a touch.
Hayes Hanlon: But it hasn’t got you all that far. Has it.
Jared Sykes: See, that depends on how you’re measuring.
Now it’s Jared’s turn to move in. He takes a step forward, and though his posture doesn’t change there’s an added edge to his voice.
Jared Sykes: You think a shiny belt defines you? Makes you who you are? Buddy, that’s just fuckin’ sad. But what I got out of that “stupid fucking mask” is more than you realize. Maybe more than you’ll ever really understand.
Hayes Hanlon: Dude, grow up. Miss me with all that shit. EVERYONE is here for gold, anyone who says they’re not is a fucking liar, including YOU.
Hayes points a stiff finger at the Heart of PRIME, and curls his lip back behind his mustache.
Hayes Hanlon: Especially you. The guy who choked on chocolate and had a nail dug in his chest. You’re gonna tell me you’re down to go through all that just to get your rocks off? Bullshit.
The Event Horizon holds up that finger, and shakes his head.
Hayes Hanlon: You’re here the glory, the gold, and the cash. Just like me, and just like everyone else. Including the liars.
Jared Sykes: You weren’t listening. I never said I wasn’t here to win, only that it doesn’t define me. If that were the case, then what the fuck am I? Or even better, what the fuck are you?
He holds a palm up, shrugging one-handed.
Jared Sykes: I swear, every time you open your mouth you make my point for me, and you don’t even realize you’re doing it. Yeah, I’ve got plenty of scars to mark my time here. Some of ‘em you can’t see, because they’re on my skin. And yet here I am, week after week, because my life doesn’t revolve around a big ‘ol belt. My opinion of myself is based on more than ten pounds of leather and gold.
Home Run Hayes smirks, and slowly shakes his head.
Hayes Hanlon: What a fucking hero.
Jared Sykes: Nah, not even a little. But whatever I am?
He slowly looks Hayes up and down.
Jared Sykes: It’s better than this.
Hanlon clicks his tongue, and sucks air through his teeth.
Hayes Hanlon: You know, I kiinda feel like you should be thanking me. I could’ve let FLAMBO take your freakin’ neck.
He freezes over, and goes cold.
Hayes Hanlon: Right now, I kinda wish I had.
Jared Sykes: And what do you think changes if he does?
Hayes Hanlon: Maybe nothing, or maybe you would’ve actually got the point. For once.
He leers over, bringing himself eye to eye with the Dragonslayer’s narrowed stare.
Hayes Hanlon: To get out of my WAY, and mind your own fucking BUSINESS. Or should I start calling you The Anglo Luchador?
Jared Sykes: Kid, the only person in your way? Is you.
Hayes Hanlon: We’ll see. In the meantime…
Hammerin’ Hanlon leans in, and sticks out his jaw.
Hayes Hanlon: …I kinda wish you’d just hit me.
In response, Jared slowly clasps both of his hands behind his back. He leans in himself, bringing his face only inches away.
Jared Sykes: No.
And then, his posture straightens and relaxes again, though it’s different from the facade he put on earlier. This seems more genuine.
Jared Sykes: Like I said, I know what I am, and that ain’t it. You let me know when you figure out who you’re supposed to be.
Jared leans down and retrieves his bag from the floor. Without another word he slings it over his shoulder and turns to head off down the hall. Hayes stands tall, and exhales heavy and sharp through his nose.
With snort, he swipes his duffel from the floor, and turns away in the opposite direction as we cut to ringside.
KENNY FREEMAN VS. DARIN ZION
It’s time for ReVival 37! And you know what that means!
BRING TAYLOR SWIFT TO COLOSSUS
AS A CLOWN I HAVE NEVER PULLED OUT OF SOMEBODY
IVAN SHITS IN THE WOODS
WELCOME TO THE KFC LORD GAVIN YUM! CENTER
37 REVS IS WHAT IT TAKES TO GET MY DAMN LAWNMOWER STARTED #JUSTDADSTUFF
THIS SIGN WAS LONGER IN WORD THAN WORDPRESS
I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO THE FOURTEEN WORDS I HAD WRITTEN OUT
IS IVAN STANISLAV UB40? BECAUSE HE LOVES TO RED, RED WHINE
14 WORDS, 14 WORDS, AND ON HIS 14TH ROLEPLAY, HE FOUND OUT IT WASN’T HIS??
NOW I AINT SAYIN SHE A WORD MISSER / BUT SHE AINT MESSIN WITH NO WORD LIMITS
Nick Stuart: It’s Friday night, and welcome to ReVival 37! I’m Nick Stuart, and joining me tonight is the one and only Richard Parker!
Richard Parker: One of a kind, that’s me!
Nick Stuart: And we’re kicking things off straight to the action!
For that, we go to Vince Howard.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, the following contest is scheduled for one fall, and is a first round match in the Seymour Almasy Memorial Tournament!
We start with the beginning of REO Speedwagon’s “Keep on Loving You”, with a giant heart appearing on the PRIMEview beating to the song.
“REAL LOVE” Darin Zion emerges from the curtains to a chorus of boos, decked out in a pink and purple robe. Bathed in a pink spotlight, Zion swerves as he drives to the ring, hips shaking. He’s cocky and arrogant and very sure of himself as he makes his way down to the ring.
Vince Howard: Introducing first… from Chicago, Illinois… weighing in at two hundred and eighteen pounds! HE IS REAL LOVE! DARIIIIIIIIINNNNN ZIOOOOOOOOOOON!!!
Zion disrobes himself before sliding into the ring, posing like a French model as he does.
Nick Stuart: We’re starting tonight with some Love Convoy representation.
Richard Parker: A shame Vickie’s not here.
Nick Stuart: Oh, yes, real crying shame.
As Darin Zion waits for his opponent, taunting the name of “Kenny Freeman” with every move he makes, Vince Howard continues his introductions.
Vince Howard: And his opponent…
There ain’t no party like a Soviet party because a Soviet party seizes the means of partying! At least, that’s the impression one gets when listening to the trap remix of the Soviet National Anthem by Michah Ray. There’s no Randall Schwartz this week, which is probably good since there’s always a chance that he tries to take the Bang! All Day Championship from Kenny’s waist.
Once man who would never take that opportunity is the absolute mammoth of a man walking out behind Kenny as he makes his way to the ring – the PRIME Universal Champion and glorious leader of the Red Army, Ivan Stanislav.
Vince Howard: Being accompanied by the PRIME Universal Champion, Ivan Stanislav… from Los Angeles, California… weighing in at one hundred and sixty pounds… representing the RED ARMY! KENNNNNNNYYYYY FREEEEEEMAAAAAAANNNNNNNN!!!!!!
Boos rain down on the pair as neither pay any attention to the scorn being hurled in their directions. Freeman rolls into the ring while Stanislav stands as a sentinel in the red corner, wearing his championship belt proudly.
Richard Parker: I have it on good authority that Ivan will be at ringside throughout the night!
Nick Stuart: Oh. Good.
Once referee Jimmy Turnbull is certain that both competitors are ready, he calls for the bell.
The two men circled each other before locking up in the center of the ring. This goes pretty poorly for one of them as Zion uses his height and weight advantage to push Freeman into the corner. Turnbull quickly tries to get the two separated and back into the middle of the ring. Zion backs off slightly with a smug look on his face, but while Darin Zion is full of love… honor’s a little trickier.
He immediately takes a swing at Freeman the first chance he gets, which Freeman only avoids by ducking and moving out of the corner. A dropkick forcefully slams Zion against the turnbuckles, which is the only thing that keeps him on his feet afterwards.
Nick Stuart: Both of these men are no strangers to each other, but it looks like Kenny Freeman’s got an early advantage here.
Kenny takes a few steps back and then charges on Zion, who ducks his head and backdrops Kenny over the top ropes. Quick and cat-like aren’t usually two terms used to describe K-Free, but they’re apt in this case as Freeman landed on his feet on the apron. He places one foot on the bottom rope and uses it as leverage to punch Zion in the face to back him away from the top rope. Zion staggers back holding his jaw, and this gives Kenny time to leap onto the top rope for the springboard.
Zion’s aware of it, though, and he charges Freeman with every intention of sending him crashing to the floor like a flightless bird. Freeman jumps past Zion and lands in a roll behind him. Both turn, but Zion has more time to recover, and…
Nick Stuart: What an uppercut from Zion!
Richard Parker: Call a priest! But not Rasputin, Ivan would definitely not like that guy!
Freeman hits the ground with his whole body rolling. He briefly ends up on his feet, but then lands on his back again and falls to the outside of the ring to the bemusement of TOUGH LOVE. Zion rolls to the outside to collect Freeman, but stops for a moment when he notices where Kenny had landed: at the foot of a seven foot tall Russian carrying the greatest prize on all of PRIME.
This gives Zion pause, if only because most people would be given pause if they suddenly had to deal with Ivan. For his part, Ivan doesn’t make a single move (because he wouldn’t want his comrade to get disqualified). Zion, with some reluctance at getting so close to the dangerous Russian champion, collects a dazed Freeman and tosses him back into the ring. He’s all too quick to follow in after him before Ivan gets any ideas about actually interfering.
Nick Stuart: Zion clearly wants no part of Ivan Stanislav.
Richard Parker: Can you blame him? One wrong move and Zion’ll be introducing TOUGH LOVE at a low geosynchronous orbit!
Zion starts stomping away at Freeman’s head, forcing K-Free to retreat to a corner in order to find some semblance of protection from all of the stomping. Once he’s done doing that, he grabs Freeman by the feet and tries to drag him back to the center of the ring. Freeman, however, holds on to the ropes and this engages a little tug-of-war where the ropes are definitely miscast. Zion insists, and Freeman’s grip fades until he’s down to trying to hang on to the bottom turnbuckle cover. With one last tug, Zion pulls Freeman… free.
Freeman, however, is a lot more agile than he’s often given credit for. Zion pulls him free, but Freeman flips out and lands on his feet in front of a startled Zion. A series of forearms rocks Zion, putting him on his back foot. At least, until his knee strikes Freeman in the gut and he goes to the ground.
Zion pulls Freeman into a headlock, and looks to be uncoiling some Tough Love. However, Freeman slips out and shoves Zion into the corner with all of his might. Zion hits the turnbuckles, and turns to find Freeman coming after him. A hard enzugiri in the corner rocks Zion, who takes two steps out of the corner and then collapses to the ground.
Nick Stuart: Zion just got his bell rung!
Richard Parker: Oh no!
Freeman waits for Zion to get on his hands and knees, and then leaps over Zion’s whole body and lands a double stomp right to the back of Zion’s head!
Quickly, Freeman scrambles into the cover.
But Zion still has some life in him, and he kicks out at two. Freeman knows he needs something else to put away the Love Machine, so after giving Zion a moment to get back to his feet, he runs the ropes and comes after Zion.
Zion pops him up, though, into a fireman’s carry.
More specifically, into the…
Nick Stuart: SIXTH STAR FROM ZION!
Zion hangs on to Freeman’s head and leg, pinning him to the mat.
On the outside, Ivan Stanislav is not nearly as stoic as he’d been. He’s shouting at Kenny Freeman to get it together, because someone has to reach the finals and take the fall for Ivan, and it’s certainly not going to be Zion!
Zion ruthlessly goes right for some Tough Love. However, he’s struggling a bit with Freeman who spreads his legs out and prevents Zion from getting the leverage needed for the headlock driver. But that’s when something… unusual starts happening.
That singing is being bellowed out from the powerful lungs of Ivan Stanislav, boldly singing the Soviet national anthem to encourage Kenny Freeman. Ivan serves as a distraction for Zion who is bewildered at the fact that Ivan has the voice of an angel (if that angel were seven feet tall, Russian, and not particularly Biblically accurate).
Nick Stuart: What the… What are you doing, Richard!?
The cameras cut to Nick Stuart and Richard Parker sitting at their desk. Only, one of them isn’t sitting. Richard is standing up with full pride for a nation that isn’t actually his own.
Richard Parker: Stand up and show respect for the national anthem of PRIME!
Nick Stuart: Since when was it that!?
It’s in this moment that Zion makes a mistake. He lets go of Kenny, and goes over to complain to Ivan that his singing is not, in fact, angelic. Undeterred, Ivan kept singing. It’s not like Zion could do much in this situation – Ivan’s not getting involved.
That’s when Kenny strikes.
He quickly ducks behind Zion and rolls him up. It’s a narrow two count, but Zion is caught flat-footed when he gets to his feet and catches a full-on uncharacteristic big boot from Freeman, just as Ivan taught him. Well, he only told him about it. Okay, Kenny just saw Ivan doing it one day and decided to copy it. The point is, Ivan was involved! Spiritually. Not directly. That’d be a disqualification.
Anyway, the boot doesn’t put Zion down, but it does stagger him. Then Freeman grabs him and takes him down with something like a judo throw, before grabbing Zion’s leg and leading into…
Nick Stuart: FREEMAN SPECIAL! Out of nowhere!
Zion’s size advantage means nothing in this instance. The hold was locked in tight, and Zion had nowhere to go… but to tap out.
DING DING DING
Fans aren’t exactly happy to see Kenny Freeman – with Ivan Stanislav as a proxy – pick up the win, though their displeasure is drowned out by the trap remix of the Soviet National Anthem. Ivan finds it difficult to sing along to that one, but bless his pure red heart, he tries.
Vince Howard: The winner of this match… KENNNNNYYYYYYY FREEEEEEEMANNNNNN!!
Nick Stuart: Zion took his eyes off the ball, and that’s all it took for Kenny Freeman to pick up the win tonight!
Richard Parker: Brings a tear to my eye to see the Red Army do so well.
Nick Stuart: …Sit down already, Richard.
With Ivan entering the ring to celebrate his comrade’s victory, the scene moves on to a man who is questionably Max Kael?.
BRO, COME WITH ME TO A WORLD OF PURE INFATUATION
We’ve had the cold open, we’ve had Freeman versus Zion which makes this segment one and you know what that means?
MAX KAEL? SEGMENT BABY.
Somewhere in the bowels of the KFC Yum! Center were the tantalizing trio of Max Kael?, Violent Purple and U.N. Couth. They appeared to be situated somewhere near where they process the six legged mutant boneless chicken into tenders, allegedly.
Max Kael?: Did you just see that match!?
Couth and Purple turned to stare at Max before shaking their heads.
U.N.Couth: Why the fuck would I watch the match? You’re the one who’s gonna have to face the winner.
Violent Purple: Also you’ve been standing next to us all afternoon, you literally just stared at the wall and kept muttering “Good Move” to yourself.
Max Kael?: Nah, that doesn’t sound like me.
All three then turn to look at the camera as though seeking the camera operator’s opinion. After a moment of hesitation the camera nods in agreement with VP and Couth.
Max Kael?: Fiddlesticks! But seriously, did anyone see the match?
This time it certainly seems like Max is asking the question in earnest clearly having paid little to no attention to the start of the conversation. Couth rolled her eyes and stepped away to smoke a cigarette, unlawfully, muttering something about losers.
Violent Purple: Focus up you dumb-idiot, you’ve got Hayes tonight in the first round of the Almasy!
Quick as a hick-up Purple sent a hard handful of Violent palm across Max’s face. The Questionable Kael’s head snapped to the side as his expression was a pained O-face.
Max Kael?: …ow. Okay, fuck, I’m focused. I’m focused! Scoop Slams, Choke Bombs, Mustache Rides, Oh my!
As he spoke Max recovered, rubbing the blooming red flesh on the side of his face Violent had just struck.
Violent Purple: Okay, if you’re focused, what’s the strategy we worked over?
Kael straightened back out while fishing a few note cards from his pocket. Shuffling through them, much to Violent Purple’s irritation, he finally finds the one he had been searching for. He caught Violents sour expression and simply shrugged.
Max Kael?: What? If I write them down, I won’t have to remember! Anyway.. Strategies for defeating Hayes Haylon, a co-production between Violent Purple and my goodly good self, Max Kael?. First, we m-
Before he can begin Max is distracted by a large, greasy looking pipe running just over his head.
Max Kael?: Woah.. I did not notice that earlier. That does not look healthy or safe. I really don’t feel comfortable standing under that thing. I bet that’s the main Grease Line for the central Chicken Frying vats. This place is disgusting.
Violent simply glares at Max and surmised that he was simply dragging his feet. She crossed her arms and tilted her head back to peer at Max down her nose. Despite being shorter than Max, Violent found ways to make herself seem bigger.
Violent Purple: The name of this place has NOTHING to do with making Fried Chicken. It’s just a name some corporation paid to get slapped up on this building for marketing. You. Fucking. Idiot.
Having grown frustrated with Max, Purple throws her hands into the air and storms off, likely to join her Aunt in an illegal indoor smoke. Kael continued to stand there looking like a kid who was in a lot of trouble before something caught his attention just off screen. As the camera panned back we could see a small side of KFC Mashed Potatoes and Gravy sitting on the ground. Max stepped over and picked up the potatoes before he noticed there was a side of KFC coleslaw a few more feet away.
Max Kael?: Oh snap! Coleslaw too?! I hope I don’t shit myself when I wrestle Hayes later!
But it only got better from here for the Questionable Kael. A few more feet away was a small KFC Double Down. And still a few more feet beyond that a box of five Extra Crispy Chicken Tenders.
Max Kael?: BIG BOX MEEEAAAAAALL!!!!
A single Taco Bell Chalupa situated near a stack of black equipment boxes. As Max peered down at it the sound of a distant owl hooting could be heard. This noise caused Max to stare at the camera incredulously.
Max Kael?: ..was that an owl?
Voice: WOOT! MAX, over here!
Poking his head out from behind a stack of sound gear crates is PRIME’s resident gamer, “n1ghtcraw1er” Eddie Cross. He has what looks like a gaming deck in one hand and a bottle of Code Red in the other.
Eddie Cross: Bruh, I found a perfect room to game in. Let’s go while they’re distracted.
Max is caught off guard by the sudden appearance of Eddie as he jumps back, his arms raising in a defensive position. Once he realizes that it is Eddie, however, he eases his stance, a toothy grin spreading across his face.
Max Kael?: Oh duuuude, Ed-Dee Cross, watch out, there’s food laying around and I mean to find it all. They only feed me this weird protein paste called “Meat?”.
The Questionable Kael grimaces as he reflects on the taste of “Meat?”, not a YUM! Product.
Eddie Cross: Well, I have something better than that. I have a whole two pound bag of sour gummy worms.
Max looks at him blankly.
Eddie Cross: Wait a minute… You’ve never had sour gummy worms?
Max shakes his head and opens one eye further than the other to further register his confusion.
Eddie Cross: So you’re gonna tell me you’ve never had licorice ropes, no nacho cheese tortilla chips, or fruit chews?
Max Kael?: Do I look like the type of guy who sits around and eats worms and tortilla chews?
Eddie Cross: Oh come on bruh. You haven’t had any peanut butter cups, caramel toffee delights, chocolate crunch bars, chili corn chips, microwave pizza rolls, wild cherry soda, or jelly beans?
Max Kael?: Why would I eat a cup? Or a wild cherry bean? Microwaves chili crunch bars? You’re not making any sense.
Eddie Cross: You’re gonna stand there, asking to play video games, and tell me you’ve never had no saltwater taffy, lemon drops, bottle pops, marshmallow cream cups, hot tamales, red hots (a.k.a cinnamon imperials), chupa chups, french burnt peanuts, fun dip, with or without the stick, or one single circus peanut?
Max looks a little uncomfortable at this point at the line of junk food and candy types that he had never, at least that he could remember, indulged in.
Max Kael?: First, some of those sound racist and I’m not like that. Second, I only eat canned “Meat?” protein paste.
Eddie Cross: Well, see there’s your problem. It’s not about what they give you, it’s about what you like, bruh. Come on, let’s go have some of the good stuff.
Max Kael?: Good? Stuff? Listen, “Meat?” is a quality brand sold to 3rd World Countries, like North Korea, to ensure their people have full bellies! If it’s good enough for Prison 293901, it’s good enough for Max Kael?.
Eddie Cross: Whaaat? No, bruh, you need stuff that will get you wired so you can stay up all night playing Call of Duty!
Max Kael?: I once tried to wire a cat. A lot harder than I anticipated. Why is this food… good?
Eddie Cross: Well… uh… might as well ask why Metal Gear Solid is good? Why is the XBOX controller good? Why is Rosario Dawson playing Ahsoka Tano good? Man, it’s junk food. You shovel it in your mouth till you get sick, you eat enough to see the ghost of Willy Wonka, eat half a dozen pixy stix at a time and wash them down with an energy drink.
The Questionable Kael turns his eyes on the junk food, lighting up like a kid on Christmas when the moment of excitement is dashed. U.N. Couth and Violent Purple arrive, cigarettes clenched in their lips, pouring porta potty fluid all over a nice, smore campfire.
U.N. Couth: What in the flaming FUCK is going on here?! It’s this guy again!
The old crone, Ulsa N. Couth, pulls her menthol from her chapped lips, stabbing the smoking end of the dart toward Eddie Cross. Violent Purple immediately recognizes Eddie and quickly moves to calm Couth down.
Violent Purple: Easy, easy. This is Eddie Cross, he’s one of the guys on the list. Max, go with Couth and get ready for your match. I want to talk with Mister Cross for a moment.
Ulsa grabs Max by the collar and yanks him away from Eddie. With a quick flick of his wrist Eddie manages to toss Max a salt water taffy without VP or Couth noticing. Kael squirrels the candy away before being dragged off. Violent crosses her arms over her chest as she steps directly up to Eddie meeting his eye.
Violent Purple: So what are we going to do with you then, darling?
The camera cuts as we are left with the tension between Eddie and Violent left unresolved.
THE TROY “FAMILY” REUNION
Okay, let’s paint us a word picture.
We’re backstage, because that’s where people spend their time when wrestling isn’t happening. Hell, even when wrestling is happening, it’s still where the majority of the roster is going to congregate. It’s also where these assholes are hanging out, because god knows they’re not on the roster. Hell, we’re still not entirely sure why they keep showing up or who lets them in the building. Their names?
They are the Troy Boys. Now do yourself a favor and take the first letter of those names, then ask yourself what it spells. Congratulations, now you’re in on the joke!
This gaggle of blithering idiots moves in slow orbit around the only genuine Troy in the shot. There’s some big “monkeys find the monolith” energy happening here. It’s like if six kids wandered away from a school field trip and started asking every adult at the museum if they were their teacher. Sure, someone may eventually be along to collect them and make sure everyone gets back on the bus, but not before the dinosaur exhibit gets all sticky.
Zephram extends his hand as trembling fingers contemplate whether Kaz Troy is something he can Koji Clutch, but his paw is swatted away by Nevin.
Nevin “Troy”: I am always stunned by your train of logic, the conductor of which is a twelve-year-old.
Zephram “Troy”: Don’t patronize me, Daddy Woof-Woof. It’s an art you haven’t mastered.
If none of this is making any sense to you, well, there’s a reason for that. See, the Troy Boys only speak using quotes from Lindsay Troy’s bio page on prime-dot-e-hyphen-wrestling-dot-org, and they only say the lines that aren’t problematic with a decade of hindsight. It’s very “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.”
Unless one of those quotes mentions Wade Elliott by name. In that case, they use the special name for the Bad Dog, “Daddy Woof-Woof.”
Also, hi, this is the brain trust behind these idiots. If I go missing over the next few days, please don’t look for me. I assume I am dead from blunt force trauma and left to rot in the ditch behind my apartment. Tell my daughter that I love her.
Nevin “Troy”: Come to think of it, Caes, you could always get a ride back in Gamble’s clown car. Maybe he’ll even let you honk his horn.
The rest of the Boys all stare at Nevin for a moment, because they’re not smart enough to figure out whether that one’s problematic or not. Zephram uses the distraction to try and poke at Kaz, but this time it’s Lance who intervenes.
Lance “Troy”: It’s… EDGY!
Zephram’s pout might be considered sad if he wasn’t so damn pretty. If you listen real close, you can almost hear him mumble the words “Koji Clutch” even though it breaks with the gag that I literally just setup about these fools.
Kaz Troy: Uhh…guys?
For the first time the actual, real Troy Boy chimes in. He’s in his ring gear and a “LET” hoodie, and a pair of headphones rest around his neck.
Kaz Troy: This is all a nice welcome and all, I think? But I kinda just want to warm up for my match in peace, if it’s cool with you.
Ian’s smile is positively radiant as he steps towards Kaz.
Ian “Troy”: Even Stella got her groove back. In time, the law of averages says you will, too.
He nods enthusiastically, because he’s an idiot. Kaz nods once, slowly.
Kaz Troy: That’s…great? Anyway, can I get by?
He tries to slip around the Troy Boys, but they move with him and keep him contained. Backpedaling does nothing either. The Heir Apparent sighs and scratches the back of his head.
Kaz Troy: Guess you all are coming with me then.
Devin “Troy”: Ten points to Gryffindor for figuring THAT out.
See? They’re obsessed.
The only real Troy in this segment continues his journey along the corridor while a “human donut” of fake Troys follows his every move.
We now cut to another Troy.
The usual backstage chicaneries are… well, it’s PRIME, so they are well underway.
The BOSS of PRIME, Lindsay Troy, is walking shoulder-to-shoulder with her beau, Wade Elliott. She has a walkie-talkie in hand.
Lindsay Troy: Any sign of Pizmo yet?
There’s a few seconds of crackling before Dam’s voice replies through the speaker.
Dametreyus: Not yet, Boss. Got the Enemigos keeping an eye out for him and Bobby.
Lindsay Troy: And still no Coral.
Dametreyus: Got them looking for him too.
Lindsay Troy: OK. Keep me posted.
She returns the walkie-talkie to her hip and sighs.
Lindsay Troy: I know I say this every show, but this might be the night I kill Cancer Jiles.
Wade Elliott: Sounds sort’ve expensive. And illegal.
The Queen lifts an eyebrow to The Bad Dog, and he grins in reply.
Wade Elliott: What? Never said I weren’t in favor. Hell, I’d pay a couple bucks to watch.
The Lady of the Hour elbows him in the arm with a chuckle…
..but it’s short lived.
Lindsay Troy: Aaannnd there’s the rub.
Leaning against the wall is the loser of his first round Almasy Invitational match, David Noble. He’s about as happy to be there as the Queen is to see him. Posted up next to him in front of the Steel Door o’ Doom is the leader of KING, Rose. Her head is lowered, looking intensely at her iPhone.
Rose: Craziest thing on the Tickety-Tok, this girl Susie is trying to make homemade pesto, because she doesn’t like store-bought pesto.
She then looks up at Lindsay, with a smile on her face.
Rose: Crazy, huh? And everyone keeps, I don’t know what they call it, adding their own crazy story on top of it. Like… I just want to know how she makes her homemade pesto. Is that so crazy? I don’t need to know how you fed a homeless guy you caught breaking into an apartment across the way.
Looking at the faces of Wade and Lindsay, she quickly slips her phone into her front pocket, and smiles as brightly as a person has ever smiled.
Rose: How’s it going, fam?
Wade Elliott: …what?
Lindsay Troy: (curtly) Rose.
She glares at her before looking over at David Noble.
Lindsay Troy: (annoyed) Dipshit. Whatever you two want, the answer is “no” and “fuck off.”
Rose looks over at David, a shocked look on her face.
Rose: Ooh, you were right. She really doesn’t like you.
David Noble: Told you.
Her head then pivots back to Lindsay.
Rose: I hear you. I can only imagine how much you hate it when people infringe on your personal space. Being an only child, I didn’t really have that experience, but it’s one that I hear often and totally get.
She then straightens her stance and pushes away from the office door before inching towards the power couple but stops herself.
Rose: Except… I invited someone here. And it would be rather rude if we just left and said person showed up and we weren’t here, you know? I know your usual hospitable spirit is one of not wanting to offend anyone —
She then looks over at David.
Rose: Present company not included, obviously —
Her head whips back to the Mom and Step-Dad of PRIME.
Rose: So how about this one time, you let us in and wait for the person to show up? Then, we can be on our way. Just this once? I don’t want people to know that you don’t have an open-door policy.
Wade Elliott: Pretty certain there ain’t ever been an “open door policy.”
Lindsay Troy: (confirming Wade’s comment with a smirk) The door’s open for the people I want to see, if you catch my drift.
Rose: Oh, oh my. I was really mistaken about that. My apologies.
Lindsay Troy: You’re really bad at this, you know.
Rose: What’s that?
Lindsay Troy: Sincerity, or the appearance of it.
Lindsay waves Rose away from the office door and walks in, with Wade following her. As the door closes, Rose slips in with Noble right behind. The Queen walks to her desk and, as she’s about to sit, notices Rose and David in the room as well. She rolls her eyes as Rose carefully sits on a side table adjacent to Troy’s desk, then flashes her pearly whites.
Rose: Thanks Lindz. Should I call you Auntie Lindz? Since we’ve known each other so long, you know?
The side-eye Lindsay throws is so sharp it could cut glass.
Lindsay Troy: No.
Wade closes the office door and moves towards a wall across from Rose, his arms folded across his chest. Rose whips back out her phone and starts tapping away on it while Noble leans on the wall behind her.
Wade Elliott: (somewhat on an island) …y’all know I could toss y’all out’ve here by the scruff’ve yer necks, right?
Rose doesn’t bother looking up from her phone as she shrugs her shoulders. Silence fills the room as Lindsay grabs her tablet and starts reading something on it. After a few moments, she looks at David.
Lindsay Troy: Y’know, I could’ve gone the rest of my life without seeing your stupid face again.
David doesn’t even bother looking at Lindsay.
David Noble: The feeling is mutual.
Lindsay Troy: Cool. Glad to see you’re still making poor life choices, by the way.
Rose looks over at Lindsay and then at David, confused as if she witnessed something she shouldn’t have. She then looks back at Lindsay.
Rose: I’m really excited about Kaz’s big match tonight. Going to be so much fun to see him get in the ring. I hope Daytona doesn’t cause him more pain than he needs to. That whole business with the chain–
Lindsay Troy: Please keep trying all the buttons, Rose. Maybe you’ll finally push the one that works.
Wade Elliott: (scanning the room, a touch confused) Y’all know that…right?
Rose smiles and returns to her phone, waiting for her visitor. They don’t have to wait much longer as a knock is heard.
Rose moves towards the door but stops as she looks over at Wade.
Rose: Sorry, are you supposed to open the door? I don’t want to take your job over there. I know you take being the personal bodyguard of Lindsay Troy very seriously.
Wade grumbles under his breath and shoots a sharp blue eye to the Lady of the Hour.
Wade Elliott: They dont’ know a fuckin’ thing, do they?
Lindsay Troy: They absolutely do not, but let’s get this over with.
Elliott shoots a glare toward Rose, then reluctantly opens the door. In steps one-half of the show’s main event this evening: The Anglo Luchador.
The Anglo Luchador: ‘Sup. Got a note saying there was a meeting in the boss’ office? You sent? Where’s Ceece…
Lindsay Troy: Not me, Tom.
The disdain drips off her words as she thumbs to the side of her. TAL looks over and sees Noble leaning against the wall and Rose sitting on the table, putting her phone away for the second time. Wade, meanwhile, has nudged himself off the wall and is re-positioning.
The Anglo Luchador: Nah, I’m good.
Rose rises from the table.
Rose: Tom? Just for a moment?
Wade Elliott: (stepping in and interrupting) Shit, I hate t’rain on y’all’s parade…
With an unexpected wave of force, Wade has managed to usher the trio of Noble, Rose, and The Anglo Luchador toward the office entry, heavy boots moving them steadily through the threshold, despite the confusion across their faces.
Wade Elliott: …but we ain’t interested. Sort it out yourselves.
The Bad Dog slams the door, leaving the three in the hallway. They exchange angry, confused, and disconcerted glances, adjusting themselves after their expulsion from The Queen’s office.
Rose’s glare draws to TAL.
And TAL stares at Rose.
Rose: (collecting herself) I…I get why you didn’t want to be in that room with us, but I figured you would want to know the why behind it. Plus, I figured if Lindsay and Wade were in the room, the threat of fighting in front of the parents would diminish.
TAL: (gesturing toward the door) I’ve known Lindz for two decades now. I’ll do anything but get naked in front of her.
Rose: Well, that’s going to be an image burned into my mind, unwillingly. You can relax though, we’re not here to fight.
TAL: Hard to relax when you and your goon squad drugged me and threw me out onto the ramp at UltraViolence. Or we got a case of selective memory?
Rose: Well, I get how that could be disconcerting and alarming. As you will possibly remember though, we didn’t actually attack you. We just needed you in a state where you could listen. Far too often, you’re ready to strike, and I didn’t want that to happen to you. Five-on-one isn’t really a fair fight, and with your back up against the wall like it was against Paxton, we needed you in a different state of mind.
TAL: Sure, whatever. Why don’t you take the time to explain yourself?
Rose nods her head before moving her hands behind her back.
Rose: Perfect! Well, you see, Tom, as I said last week, I’m a bit tired of the paladin-hat-wearing style that so many of our fine heroes of PRIME seem to be wearing and not actually understanding what that actually means. I mean, how much in fines have the likes of Jared and yourself and others had to pay? It’s a lot, in case you were wondering. I’ve had the pleasure to watch quite a bit of wrestling this past year, not having much to do in my spare time. I have to say, Tom, you’re not much of a thinker.
The jaw of TAL sets a hard line against it.
Rose: You know, during your battle against Arthur Pleasant, you thought it would be a good idea to bring Craig Hamburgers to the arena, knowing that Pleasant was out, looking to sink those gnarly teeth into you. What could have possibly been running through your mind? How on Earth could that have come across as a good idea for you?
TAL’s eyes narrow.
Rose: Then, you decided to take Melissa and Nora into your home. How sweet. You decided to put them alongside your own wife and kids, knowing that the madman we all, for some reason, allow to just hang around us would do anything to get to his daughter. Did that thought ever cross your mind, Tom? Did you ever consider that you were putting your wife and kids at harm by your decisions? I mean, it baffles me that you didn’t even consider all the possible scenarios that could play out.
TAL seems to want to respond, but Rose holds her hand up.
Rose: Not done. You know the issue with you, Tom? You are selfish. You put yourself, and only yourself, first. Always about doing the right thing with you. Well, I guess not always. Because it’s your reputation that needs to be placed on a pedestal. Your pride needs to be looked at as the good guy while not giving two thoughts to the people you harm along the way.
Rose inches towards TAL.
Rose: What about your kids? What if Paxton had gotten his hands on them? Or whatever nefarious group that he has doing his dirty work? What about Craig Hamburgers? Your wife? Melissa? Nora? You hid a kid from her father. When did you become God, Tom? When did you become above the law, Tom? You are shit, and yet you think you’re the one to protect others? And then want to look Pikachu-shocked when the consequences of your decisions blow up in your face? Save us all the sanctimonious bullshit.
She shakes her head.
Rose: You’re no better than Paxton. Putting your own selfish needs above everyone else, including your kids, family, the people you swore to protect. All in the name of everyone else thinking the best of you. No more, Tom. Because I know better. I know far too well the real Tom Battaglia. Worthless of the words that come out of his mouth and even less so as it comes to his actions.
Rose: That’s why I sent you the roses. To try and remind you of your duty, but clearly, there’s not much operating up there in that skull of yours. That’s why I drugged you, to send you a message. That you, and those that run around here treating this like their own personal play space, will be held accountable for your actions. You’ve fucked around long enough, Tom. It’s now time for you to find out.
TAL looks around the hallway before responding.
TAL: Cool, I can talk now? Great. Anyway, glad to hear you can listen to shitheads like Pleasant and Nackedy and regurgitate their talking points. And you accuse me of not being a thinker. Not gonna dwell on the projection, I have too much respect for your father to go in on how you seemed to have turned out.
He turns his ire towards David, closing the gap between them.
TAL: And you? Fuck, man, I didn’t know you were that hard up for cash that you’d babysit the daughter of a Hall of Famer. What, did hanging dong on TikTok not translate to the payday you’d hoped it would?
The words aren’t taken too kindly by David, and the previous gap is no longer there. Rose immediately steps between the two, shooting a look at David that screams ‘stand down,’ and then looks back at TAL.
Rose: You want to settle it with fists? That’s fine. We do it in the ring, just like my father would’ve done, right? I’m glad that nothing got through that thick skull of yours. You would think that after having it done so many times, you would want to do things differently. It’s okay, Tom, your time is coming.
TAL: Cool. Anyway, I have a submission artist to fight in the main event. You two have fun and maybe fuck off and die.
TAL takes his leave. Rose looks over at David.
Rose: Well, that went well.
ReVival then cuts to Matt Mills, who has a guest with him.
Matt Mills: All right, we’re backstage here at PRIME’s ReVival 37…
The camera pans to reveal Matt Mills, his face bright with enthusiasm despite the years of jaded experience behind him. He stood tall and well-dressed, ready for another interview as he gestured towards his guests, Adam Ellis and Ginny Van Lear.
Matt Mills: …I’m here with Adam Ellis and his manager, Ginny Van Lear!
Adam nods politely, his 6-foot-4 frame towering over Matt. Beside him, Ginny, the red-haired firecracker from Kentucky, stood protectively – her loyalty to Adam evident in her fierce gaze.
Adam Ellis: Good to be here, Matt.
Ginny Van Lear: Thanks, y’all.
Ginny’s Appalachian twang was a stark contrast to her husband’s midwestern style of voice.
Mills’s eyes zero in on the slight discoloration on the side of Adam’s face.
Matt Mills: Adam, I couldn’t help but notice your bruise there. Care to comment on the attack you faced last Sunday at High Octane Wrestling?
Adam’s expression darkens and stops Matt mid-sentence with a raised hand.
Adam Ellis: I ain’t gonna dignify that other place by talkin’ ’bout what happened, Matt. I work for a real wrestling company, and after next week, I’ll never set foot in that third-rate, garbage match hell hole ever again.
Mills senses the tension and quickly changes the subject.
Matt Mills: Alright, let’s move on to tonight’s match against Eddie Cross. What are your thoughts, Adam?
Adam Ellis: Cross is a classy fella, and a dang good technical wrestler. I know all about him. Technical, Catch wrestling – trained by Dave Gibson. He’s a classic grappler who likes to wear his opponents down, pinpointing injuries and prefers a submission finish.
Ginny Van Lear: Uses pressure points and joint attacks too. Precision strikes to set up finishes.
Adam Ellis: Exactly. Eddie Cross is a tough competitor, and I’m lookin’ forward to goin’ toe-to-toe with him tonight.
Matt Mills: Adam, can you give us any insight into how you plan on countering Eddie’s technical style?
Adam Ellis: Well…
Adam pauses, rubbing his chin thoughtfully.
Adam Ellis: …I reckon we’ll put on a wrestling spectacular this Friday night. I’ve been trainin’ hard and studyin’ Eddie’s moves, but I know it won’t be easy. I hope to come out on top, but I have to work real hard to defeat someone like Eddie Cross. It’s gonna be one heck of a match.”
Suddenly, footsteps echo down the hallway and Eddie Cross himself appears, walking into the shot with a confident stride.
Matt Mills: Speak of the devil. Eddie Cross, joining us now… What brings you here?
Eddie Cross: Did I lose her? Oh hey guys. Adam? What’s going on man!?
Matt waits patiently for an answer.
Eddie Cross: Well Matt, I was just having a chat with the weirdly attractive lady that is hanging out with Max, and then I saw Mr. Ellis and Ms. Van Lear and decided to say sup’ before the match. So, sup’?
Matt Mills: Eddie, you are scheduled to go toe to toe next with Mr. Ellis. What are your thoughts going into the match?
Eddie rubs his chin contemplatively.
Eddie Cross: I have to tell you bruh, the way you shoot for a double leg is a thing of beauty. I’ve been watching a lot of tape myself and I have some great ideas, but like, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth, right?
Eddie sees Adam sizing him up, not necessarily for intimidation, but more because he is excited for the challenge, and the young Samoan steps forward.
Eddie Cross: Adam, with all due respect, I only have one thing to say to you before we do this thing…
He holds out his hand.
Eddie Cross: Good luck and may the best wrestler win.
Adam grips Eddie’s hand firmly in a display of sportsmanship and mutual respect.
Adam Ellis: Agreed.
We then cut to ringside.
EDDIE CROSS VS. ADAM ELLIS
Nick Stuart: Our next first round match up in the Almasy Invitational involves two very evenly-match opponents in Eddie Cross and Adam Ellis!
Richard Parker: Well dang, I left my bulletproof vest in the car. The Enemigos still have a “No Weapons In the Building” policy, right? I mean, I don’t know how the laws work around here; this is Kentucky, after all.
Nick Stuart: I don’t think you’ll have to worry about Ginny Van Lear in that respect, Rich. Especially with the likes of Savannah Scandal and Vickie Hall set in her crosshairs. On the other hand, many might recall that Eddie Cross sustained an injury to his eye in his grueling battle with Dave Gibson at UltraViolence, though it remains anyone’s guess if it will affect him in this contest.
Richard Parker: More than likely. Depth perception is no joke, kids!
Nick Stuart: Let’s go to the ring! Take it away, Vince!
Match Start in 10…9…8…7…6…5…4…
– Eliminate Other Players –
The opening guitar to Cross Off by Mark Morton (feat Chester Bennington) echoes, and the words repeat
“Cross Off the days gone…”
“Cross Off the days gone…”
As Mark Morton’s guitars sear through the arena, Eddie “n1ghtcraw1er” Cross steps out of the back and stops to survey the crowd before pumping a fist into the air. He adjusts his custom gaming glasses before walking down the ramp focused on the ring. EC pauses at the ring steps, taking off his backpack, unzipping the main compartment, and placing it in the corner of the ring. He waits for the transition between verses before psyching himself up. Vince Howard is waiting.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, the following contest is a first round match-up for the Seymour Almasy Invitational, and is for one fall! Introducing first, from Charlotte, North Carolina… weighing in at two-hundred and twenty-five pounds… EDDIE “N1GHTCRAW1ER” CROSS!!!
He then runs up the ring steps, wipes his feet on the apron, and enters the ring as Chester Bennington screams into the microphone.
Eddie rolls his neck and prepares for the match.
Garrett Biggs’ “Mama Didn’t Raise No…” plays over the sound system and on the video screen, a video plays showing a series of wrestling trophies on a dresser next to an old high school football uniform that has ‘Ellis’ on the back.
An acoustic guitar plays and the vocals begin.
“Mama didn’t raise no… quitter- guaranteed to get the job done.”
Adam Ellis and Ginny Van Lear walk out from the back hand in hand and stand on the stage.
“She didn’t raise no SOB who that can’t back himself up – been known to throw a good punch.”
Vince Howard: And the opponent, accompanied to the ring by Ginny Van Lear… hailing from Warrensburg, Missouri, and weighing in at two-hundred and twenty six pounds… ADAM ELLIS!!!
The video screen shows a series of action shots of Ellis from his various matches
“And this ol’ boy gets going when the going gets tough- sundown to sun up.”
Dressed in a t-shirt, jeans, and her feet wrapped in tape the former MMA prodigy nods her head causing her bright red hair to flip, and raises her left hand…
“Need a man with a helping hand – he’s always got one to lend.”
…and then brings it down as the chorus and full instrumentation hits- complete with pyro.
“Oh, I might be a little rough around the edges”
Adam’s wearing a pair of plain blue wrestling shorts. He starts forward down the ramp towards the ring followed by Van Lear.
“From the outside lookin’ in it might seem helpless.”
The couple reaches the ring. Adam holds the rope open so Ginny can slide through.
“I’ve been blessed with a strong backbone – I never coulda made it on my own”
Adam joins her in the ring.
“But if there’s one thing that I know – Momma didn’t raise no…”
Adam climbs up the top turnbuckle and holds up his arms.
Ginny retreats to ringside. Cross and Ellis meet each other in the center of the ring for a respectful handshake before going to their corners to allow official Ashley Barlow to make her final checks.
Nick Stuart: A genuine show of respect between these two young, idealistic athletes before the bell. It’s too bad we don’t see more of this.
Richard Parker: Because it’s the wrestling equivalent of wearing a “kick me” sign, Nick! Are they here to make frie
Adam and Eddie are pumped and ready as they emerge from their corners and meet in the center of the ring. The encircling ensues, with either competitor watching the others movements closely. Ellis shoots in low to break the ice, but Cross quickly catches him into the collar-and-elbow.
Nick Stuart: Cross and Ellis go right into the tie-up. Could be looking at a good technical affair between these two.
Richard Parker: You mean basic, by-the-book, vanilla style wrestling? I guess that suits these two perfectly.
Nick Stuart: Cross, going for the wrist… but Ellis won’t let him have it. Adam, trying to force the head down, but Eddie clinches him in close to block whatever he’s going for!
Ellis frees up his arm to switch to a three-quarter bulldog, taking the struggle upstairs. He drops to a knee to a snapmare Cross to the canvas, but the N1GHTCRAW1ER’s head slips loose, and he instead finds himself trapped into a rear waistlock. Instinctively, his hands go to Eddie’s, attempting to pry them apart, while also hooking a leg to block any attempt to lift him off his feet.
Nick Stuart: This ought to be a real tug-of-war in terms of strength and skill. You couldn’t ask for more evenly matched opponents than these two, both in height and weight.
Richard Parker: So the real difference maker comes down to who is the dimmest of wits.
Nick Stuart: Cross has a good grip around the waist of Adam Ellis! Going for a German… but it’s BLOCKED! Now Ellis reaches through his legs, hooks a knee, and there goes E.C. to the canvas with the legdrag!
The audience applauds as Ellis moves himself right into a side kneebar. Cross grinds his teeth and fights through the nagging pain, instead looking to counter by wrapping his hands around Adam’s exposed head and wrenching it back into a chinlock. Ellis paws the hands away, but Cross locks it in again on a second attempt. Ivan looks on, intently.
Nick Stuart: Cross, trying to force his way out of a submission by a submission!
Richard Parker: You know, the phrase “fight fire with fire” sounds great and all, but when, in the course of all human history, has that ever actually worked?
Nick Stuart: Ellis, trying to break free… but he gifts Eddie his wrist in the process! Cross is free! And now Adam finds himself on the other end, with E.C. working the wristlock!
Cross torques the shoulder for a beat, before Ellis flips through and reverses in a wristlock of his own. Eddie chuckles, then likewise flips through to reverse and breaks his hand free. The two stand staring at each other after the exchange, drawing a light pop and applause from the fans in attendance.
Nick Stuart: Appears these two are thus far at a stalemate in this contest, as Ellis and Cross stay step for step with each other.
Richard Parker: How do we know they’re not working together on this?
Nick Stuart: Ellis shoots in low… but Eddie stuffs the takedown attempt! No, now Adam counters with a Northern Lights suplex to put Cross to the canvas, and onto his shoulders!
Eddie twists his body to get the shoulder off the mat, but Ellis quickly twists with him and goes again for the mount. Cross grabs him by the wrists and defensively brings up his legs to block him. After a few moments of struggle, Adam leans his weight forward.
Nick Stuart: Ellis with the prawn hold to force Eddie’s shoulders to the mat once more!
THRE–shoulders up with Cross BRIDGING off the top of his head!
Richard Parker: Oof, that hurts just looking at it!
The crowd audibly OOHs as E.C. spryly arches his back off the mat, until Adam, using Cross’s grip on either of his arms, reverses the momentum by deadlifting him off the mat and onto his shoulders. Eddie swiftly slips down his back and grabs him by the waist as he goes.
Nick Stuart: Cross, going up–but quickly BACK DOWN, rolling Adam Ellis with him into a double leg cradle!
TW–REVERSED BY ELLIS!
CROSS KICKS FREE!
E.C. rolls to his feet, but runs himself right into a drop toe hold by the waiting Ellis. Adam pounces onto his shoulders with a side headlock to hold him in place. Only Cross isn’t about to be held down. Eddie works himself up to his feet and opts to break free by way of a back suplex.
Nick Stuart: Cross with the suplex–but Ellis LANDS ON HIS FEET! Adam, catching Eddie with an armdrag–no, Cross reverses with an armdrag of his own… right into the Deathstalker armbar!
Richard Parker: These guys are making my head spin with all these reversals!
Nick Stuart: Well you might have the chance to screw it back on straight, Rich, as Eddie Cross has this submission maneuver locked in, and Ellis doesn’t look to be reversing it any time soon! He is, however, gratefully close to the ropes!
Cross works the arm, just enough to let Adam know he means business, but Ellis nevertheless extends his arm an extra few feet to grab the bottom rope. Eddie releases without hesitation and respectfully backs up to allow his opponent a moment. Adam doesn’t even need half of one, quickly storming back to his feet and crashing into him for another lock-up.
Nick Stuart: So much fire in these two competitors right now! And with so much at stake, in an opportunity to advance in the Almasy Invitational!
Richard Parker: Well if either one of them really wants it bad enough, then they better pull the gloves off soon!
Nick Stuart: It’s more than that, Rich! These two are interested in seeing who between them will come out on top in a good, honest, clean wrestling match!
Richard Parker: Didn’t anybody ever tell these boyscouts that nice guys finish last?
Adam’s burst of energy puts Cross on his heels, giving Ellis an opening to wrangle him by the waist, lift, and drops him to his face and chest with a picturesque collegiate takedown. Ellis follows through by going into the lateral position and rolling Cross onto his back.
Nick Stuart: Lateral press by Adam Ellis, going for another pin!
Cross works himself free!
Ellis swaps into the north-and-south and puts Eddie into a facelock before proceeding to pull him back up on his way to his feet. Cross twists himself free before Adam can follow through with his plans.
Nick Stuart: E.C. with the reversal, tying up Adam’s arms around his head… going for the RNG neckbreaker–but Ellis twists his way out with a reversal of his own!
Richard Parker: Yet another reversal!
Nick Stuart: Ellis goes over… AROUND… ARM-TRAP NECKBREAKER puts Cross to the mat!
The crowd cheers as Ellis lands the big move. He quickly floats over to make the pin, until sees something that brings him pause.
Richard Parker: No cover?
Nick Stuart: It would appear not! Eddie is holding that patched eye, and I’m thinking that Adam may have grazed it in the exchange back there.
Richard Parker: All the more reason to take advantage of it then!
Official Ashley Barlow steps in the moment she’s aware of the issue, and calls on Ellis to make space. Adam obligingly backs into the corner, but stays on the ready. Barlow checks on Cross, but E.C. promptly assures the ref he’s fine to continue, and calls for his opponent to resume the fight.
Richard Parker: Adam Ellis may have just kissed his chances at progressing in this tournament goodbye right there!
Nick Stuart: You don’t think that maintaining his integrity as a sportsman is more important than taking advantage of his opponent’s unfortunate injury for his own benefit?
Richard Parker: Of course not! It’s the only effective way to get ahead in life!
Eddie obligingly goes onto his back so the two can pick up right where they left off. Ellis falls upon him back in the lateral, this time skipping the pin attempt to work the arm into a Kimura lock while Cross struggles to keep his shoulders off the canvas while preventing himself from being rolled over.
Nick Stuart: The N1ghtcraw1er finds himself in a precarious position now! Barlow is watching those shoulders of his like a hawk, and if Adam Ellis can force him onto his belly, there’s no telling what he might do to that arm!
Richard Parker: He’s just as much of an idiot as Ellis for allowing him to get back onto him!
Nick Stuart: One show of respect deserves another, Rich.
The legs of Cross find a body scissor around the waist of Ellis, and his free arm begins to cinch in a guillotine. Adam senses the tide turning, and instinctively flips forward into a bridge to free himself.
Nick Stuart: Ellis with the bridge, and the shoulders of Cross are down!
Cross gator rolls his way into the north-south position. Ellis kips up his legs to find his footing, but E.C. has it scouted, pushing his weight forward with an inverted facelock in place to force Adam onto his knees. He quickly ties up the legs to ready the surfboard stretch.
Nick Stuart: Eddie Cross could be looking for the GG DRAGON SLEEPER!!
…only for Ellis free hand to slip into the gap and force his head free. Before Cross can react, Ellis tucks his head and rolls forward, hooking Eddie’s arms with his legs as he does so.
Nick Stuart: NO!! Ellis breaks free… counters with a VICTORY ROLL!!
Cross kicks up to get his shoulders off the mat, but in doing so, repositions his body in a way that Ellis can take his legs and wrench him back.
Nick Stuart: ELLIS WITH THE ELEVATED BOSTON CRAB!!
The crowd EXPLODES… until Cross fights back with a sudden surge of energy, twisting his way out of the crab and rolling Ellis to the mat.
Richard Parker: Can either of these guys get ANYTHING locked in?!
Nick Stuart: Both of these men are moving on nothing but instinct right now, as it’s a race to the finish! Ellis up, but Cross from behind… going for the cobra clutch–
ADAM REVERSES WITH THE BACKSLIDE!!
Richard Parker: By the skin of his teeth on that one!
Eddie rolls back onto his feet and shoots in, but Ellis is a step ahead of him, slipping behind into a waistlock and lifting before E.C. can react.
Nick Stuart: GERMAN SUPLEX!! Bridge FOR THE PIN!!
CROSS gets a SHOULDER UP!!
…but now Adam’s are DOWN!!
NO! CROSS TRAPS HIS LEGS AND BRIDGES WITH THE EUROPEAN CLUTCH TO COUNTER!
Richard Parker: Wait, WAS IT?!
DING DING DING
Ellis kicks out… but it’s a quarter of a second too late. He rolls to his knees and looks pleadingly at Barlow. But dread hits his face when he sees her holding up three fingers.
Nick Stuart: IT WAS! Cross got him by a HAIR!
The crowd reacts with shock and amazement as “Cross Off” begins playing over the PA. Barlow raises Eddie’s hand in victory.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, here is your winner, by pinfall… EDDIE… N1GHTCRAW1ER… CRRROOOOOOSSSSS!!
In a show of respect and humility, Cross politely pulls away from the ref and aids Ellis back to his feet so that the two respectfully shake hands. The crowd roars again, applauding their sportsmanship.
Nick Stuart: What a technical battle we just witnessed! Just goes to show a match can be clean and respectful between opponents and still entertaining!
Richard Parker: Came right down to the wire in the end, though. Eddie should consider himself lucky, cause I think both these guys made some costly errors.
Nick Stuart: I feel your idea of a “costly error” may be a bit subjective, my friend. In any case, this is a big win for E.C., taking a step forward in the Almasy Invitational. And let’s not overlook Adam Ellis, who competed tonight with the absolute heart of a champion!
Richard Parker: Yeah, he did great. But the harsh truth is, there are no consolation prizes in this sport. Either you win, or you go home. And Adam Ellis is going to go home tonight wondering where he went wrong.
Nick Stuart: Okay, that’s enough out of you. Still plenty of action left to round out the evening, ladies and gentlemen, but for right now, let’s get a quick word in from our sponsors!
We then cut to commercial.
COMMERCIAL: 24 HOUR RULE
THE VVINNER’S CIRCLE
We return from commercial to our commentators.
Nick Stuart: Did you get the chance to check out the city before the show, Rich?
Richard Parker: Sure did! Hit up every distillery in town! Light a match near my trunk right now, and it’d blow up a city block!
Nick Stuart: That’s… somewhat worrisome to know. In any case, earlier today, ladies and gentlemen, our own Simon Tillier went out on the town with a pair of members of the esteemed Vae Victis.
Richard Parker: Ooooh, the lucky dog! Those Vae Victis guys know how to party!
Nick Stuart: Without further adieu, let’s roll the tape and see what went down!
The feed fades to a midday exterior shot of the world famous Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. The words “Earlier Today…” flash by the bottom of the screen on a chyron.
A moment later, we cut to three men who are casually walking through the backside stables. The aforementioned Tillier, in his dapper blue suit, is dwarfed in size by the forms of Kerry Kuroyama and Scott Hunter at his left and right.
Simon Tillier: Well Kerry, Scott… I would presume that by seeing the two of you here in each other’s company that there were no hard feelings following your grueling battle with one another two weeks ago.
Kerry nods. As always, he’s looking sleek and professional, adorned in a Mikado Atticus by Tom Ford.
The luxury men’s suit designer; not the handler. Strawbviously.
Kerry Kuroyama: No hard feelings at all, Simon. We in Vae Victis pride ourselves in keeping it professional. Even in the unfortunate circumstances where we find ourselves against one another.
Conversely, Scott is apparently channeling forth the spirit of Brian Bosworth with an effective nostalgic ensemble of acid-washed jeans, Pit Vipers, abrasively patterned silk button-up from Don Flash’s with a complimentary gold chain.
And yes… that mullet is flowing, and fucking glowing.
Scott Hunter: For your information, Simon, My feelings have never been softer. The truth is, I’m here learning from the best in the business week in and week out. What’s to be upset about? And have you seen my pit vipers? I have sunglasses made from bits of real snakes found in pits!
Tillier spends a moment pondering the logic of this statement before realizing that he’d probably give himself lasting brain damage if he thought about it too hard. Instead, he clears his throat and changes topics.
Simon Tillier: So then, how are the two of you enjoying your stay in Louisville?
Kerry Kuroyama: Beautiful city, Simon. A rare gem, in a state that is mostly known for producing coal and chronic emphysema. And bourbon… a piss-flavored style of whisky, made for rednecks, alcoholics, and other lowlifes.
Scott Hunter: (straight-faced) I saw a man eating a pigeon.
Kerry just stares at Scott. Scott stares at Simon, who blinks, confused.
Simon Tillier: Um, was it maybe fried chicken he was eating?
Scott Hunter: There could be a Colonel of truth to what you’re saying.
Simon lets out the first extended sigh of the evening. Then, his attention is perked by the whinny of a thoroughbred from one of the nearby pens.
Simon Tillier: And, I suppose it goes without saying, the city of Louisville is popularly known to be the Kentucky Derby.
Kerry Kuroyama holds his arms out wide, gesturing to the rows of pens that line the passageway.
Kerry Kuroyama: Here we are, Simon. The Run for the Roses. On the first Saturday of every May, for approximately two minutes, this place becomes the epicenter of the sports world. And here we are, among some of the absolute best contenders from another field of competition.
Kerry pats the nose of a blonde gelding hanging its head over the open dutch door of its stall.
Kerry Kuroyama: To think… any of one of these magnificent creatures could be the next Triple Crown winner.
Scott Hunter: Can you believe it?? Three crowns? I’m usually a little woozy after just two crowns. I’ve had to slow down on the hard stuff. (eyes furrowed in confusion) But Canadian whisky? I guess these horses are from Toronto or something.
Kerry suppresses the urge to groan, and continues his point.
Kerry Kuroyama: (ignoring Scott) The thing about winners, Simon, is that they aren’t simply chosen at random. Winners are made. From hard work and perseverance. A balanced combination of pedigree, training, conditioning…
He draws in a deep breath and rolls his neck.
Kerry Kuroyama: But in the field of professional wrestling, it may even take a bit more than that. Because wrestlers aren’t motivated to win by apples. In that ring, we are our own jockeys. We push ourselves to the finish line. We earn our own flowers. Because nothing in this world smells sweeter than victory.
The three of them halt the moment the squelch is heard. Kuroyama’s expression melts into the classic sour milk face. The trio of heads collectively tilt downward along with the camera…
…and discover Kerry’s right Christian Louboutin buried deep into a thick, wet pile of horse chips.
Simon Tillier: Oh my…
Kerry Kuroyama: Well, now… speaking of apples.
The Emerald Apex clears his throat and nods to his Vae Victis associate.
Kerry Kuroyama: Scott?
Scott Hunter: (pointing) There’s poop on your shoe.
Kerry Kuroyama: Yes, I know. If it’s no trouble, could you run to the car, and see if you can find something for this?
Scott Hunter: (holding up a finger before dashing off) Right-o!
A beat after Hunter has left the two of them, Kerry bends over and begins untying the laces. Simon looks mildly surprised.
Simon Tillier: For a minute there, I thought…
Kerry Kuroyama: What, that I was going to make him get down here and clean it?
Kerry Kuroyama: Even our gophers deserve at least a modicum of dignity, Simon. Scott has earned that much, at least.
The shoe slips off.
Kerry Kuroyama: Besides… he’d probably just ruin the finish.
He rises up, shit-encrusted shoe in hand. Tillier’s nose wrinkles as soon as the smell hits him. Kerry remains stone-faced, despite holding a seven-hundred dollar loafer stained with manure.
Kerry Kuroyama: I, however, am not afraid to get my hands dirty. Something that you–and all of PRIME–would do well to remember.
Scott Hunter reappears holding a plush squeaky horse toy. He offers it to Kerry Kuroyama, who takes it, then tosses it over his shoulder nonchalantly.
Scott Hunter: Sorry, I… checked the car but all I could find were my souvenirs from the gift shop. It was either this or a horse button that said ‘stop horsing around’ on it. Which… (stifles a chuckle) …is hilarious, sure, but not useful in wiping away the poopsies.
Beyond the smoke-tinted lenses of Kerry’s Bulgari sunglasses, an eye twitches with subdued rage.
Kerry Kuroyama: (through clenched teeth) …thank you, Scott. I have no idea what I’d do without you.
Kerry then spies something on the junior reporter’s person. Deftly, he snatches Simon’s handkerchief from the chest pocket of his dapper blue suit.
Kerry Kuroyama: Fortunately, this is nothing that can’t easily be scraped off.
Tillier opens his mouth to protest, but it comes out in a choke. He can do no more but watch helplessly as the Pacific Blitzkrieg wipes the offal clean from his shoe.
Kerry Kuroyama: Just the universe’s way of reminding me that I should be looking out with every step forward. Always on my guard. Out here, it’s just an unfortunate occurrence. But in the ring? One false step can either make or break a match. You can bet your ass I’ll be holding that truth close to the heart, the next time you see me standing between the ropes.
With the task completed, Kuroyama returns Simon’s hankie by stuffing it back into the chest pocket he pulled it from, earning an indignant glare from the junior reporter..
Kerry Kuroyama: I’ll handle the rest when we get back to the suite.
A deluxe at the Galt House, in case you were wondering. Beautiful view of the river.
The shoe returns to Kuroyama’s foot, and he continues walking. Tillier casts another annoyed look at the soiled rag in his suit, but nevertheless keeps the interview going.
Simon Tillier: Well then, speaking of the next step ahead of you…?
Kuroyama again takes in a deep breath of the heavy stable air.
Kerry Kuroyama: Rocky de Leon.
Simon Tillier: Indeed. Would you care to express your opinion on your next round opponent?
Kerry Kuroyama: Hmm… my opinion.
The Emerald Apex mulls it over for a beat, and comes to a stop.
Kerry Kuroyama: You want me… a stiff, hardened, no-nonsense wrestler’s wrestler… to give my opinion on the guy that dresses up like a dinosaur.
Kerry scratches his chin, lightly chuckling.
Kerry Kuroyama: Well, I think I’ll make that opinion known in due time, Simon. But for the time being…
Then looks to Vae Victis’s newest associate standing on the other side of the interviewer.
Kerry Kuroyama: Scott…?
Hunter, who is busy scratching the nose of a fine-looking chestnut colt, perks up when he hears his name being called.
Kerry Kuroyama: You’ve been around PRIME for a bit now. Gotten to know some names and faces, I imagine. So if you could, Scott, tell me what comes to that… beautifully unique mind of yours when you think of Mr. de Leon?
Scott takes off his sunglasses, pulls some black horn-rimmed glasses from his pocket and places them on his face, then pulls a folded piece of paper from his front jean pocket.
Scott Hunter: Yes, well, I have indeed spent some time doing research for just such a moment as this. Rocky De Leon, as we all know, is a name that comes from a Latin phrase, roughly translated as, “Short Italian Boxer of the Lion”. So clearly, what we are dealing with is a man who punches lions. I think it goes without saying that no one should trust a lion puncher, and furthermore, who even punches lions? Do the lions owe him money? Does he want to defeat the lions and become the new king of the jungle? Who knows?! No one knows! It’s a mystery. (Scott points at Simon) All I know is that when my man Kerry Kuroyama gets in the ring with Rocky of the lion this week, in the words of the immortal mathemetician Elton John, the lion sleeps tonight!!
Kuroyama nods. Understandably. As if every single word of this made sense. Simon, on the other hand, is left perpetually confused.
Kerry Kuroyama: Thank you, Scott. I’m not sure that could have been expressed any better. Or as appropriate, given who it is we’re talking about.
The timer of Kerry’s Omega Speedmaster begins to beep, pinging his attention. He pats the junior reporter on his shoulder.
Kerry Kuroyama: Unfortunately, Simon, the time for talk has come to an end, and Scott and I have other appointments to attend to. I do hope this conversation was as informative to you… as it was a genuine waste of time for me.
The pat becomes a forceful grip. Kuroyama now has Simon’s full attention.
Kerry Kuroyama: But hopefully, with the next statement I intend to make in the ring here in a couple weeks, you and the rest of this federation will come a step closer to figuring out just what the fuck I’m about here in PRIME.
Kerry releases his grip, and gestures his head to Scott toward the exit. The two begin walking back the way they came toward the exit, while Simon is left before the camera with a troubled expression.
Simon Tillier: …there you have it ladies and gentlemen.
A thoroughbred from a nearby stall brays.
Simon Tillier: Straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were.
We fade back to the live feed, with the back shot on Nick and Richard at commentary.
Richard Parker: Holy crap, Nick! Did you hear what Kerry said?
Nick Stuart: About making a statement in two weeks, in his next round match against Rocky de Leon?
Richard Parker: No! I mean what he said about BOURBON! Do you have any idea how much money I dropped on crappy whisky?!
Nick Stuart: You have my condolences, Rich. For now, let’s keep the show going.
We fade to a door inside of the KFC Yum! Center. Standing outside of the door are two men everyone knows very well, and it’s Joe Fontaine and Sid Phillips of the Glue Man Group! Applause! Joe is as bedazzled as usual, while Sid simply opts for the simple, far less opulent black suit. With them, standing in quiet observation, is Cecilworth Farthington…’s cardboard standee, better known as his secretary, Cardsworth.
Joe Fontaine: I’m telling you, this is serious.
Sid Phillips: Okay.
Joe Fontaine: We’re talking about the potential for an international incident here. We need to watch what we say and do and what we’re powerbombing.
Sid Phillips: It would be an international incident to me if I don’t get to powerbomb something soon.
Joe Fontaine: Look, I know how you feel…
Sid Phillips: No, you don’t.
Joe Fontaine: Look, I have a general idea in the vague direction of whatever powerbomb you’re thinking of at this moment…
Sid Phillips: Try me.
Joe Fontaine: Powerbomb out of a vertical suplex.
Sid Phillips: Fuck.
The door swings open and two individuals step out of the darkness and immediately in front of Joe, Sid, and Cardsworth. The Beasts of Tokyo stand in their way, behind them, far down the dark passageway is a single large chair, illuminated by a single light bulb, the ‘throne’ is set up on a stage. The Generalissimo Garry “Ray-Ray” Bolamba sits on his throne conversing with a mysterious birdman. Finally after a few uncomfortable moments a mysterious birdman steps into the darkness, and it takes many more uncomfortable moments for him to make his way to the light of the doorway. He and Rhinohorn converse before a mysterious birdman fades back into the darkness and “Rhino Horn” Shinji Komiya steps forward.
Shinji Komiya: You may enter, the Generalissimo awaits your presence.
Joe and Sid exchange looks. Joe nervously gulps before Komiya steps aside to allow him and Sid to walk inside. After a short pause, Joe comes back and sheepishly brings Cardsworth into the room with him. With Cardsworth neatly tucked underneath his arm, Joe and Sid walk down a long, dark hallway. At the end of which is a chair. Sitting upon it is a man who might seem very familiar to anyone who is familiar with Indiana Hoosiers basketball. Well, that and anyone who watched him on ReVival 36.
Garry Ray-Ray Bolamba: Why do you seek mah presence?
Joe Fontaine: Well, Generalissimo Garry “Ray-Ray” Bolamba, you see… uh, look. Imagine, if you will, an opportunity for glue and Bolambaland to come together in a perfect, let’s say an adhesive union?
Sid Phillips: Or an opportunity to powerbomb things. I’m more in that line of work than the sticky line. A lot of the good powerbombs need a good, quick release, and involving glue in some way spoils those.
Garry Ray-Ray Bolamba: RHINOHORN!
Scurrying can be heard in the darkness as Shinji Komiya steps forward from the darkness, clearly slightly out of breath from the long run down the dark hallway. He presents himself into the light and the Generalissimo nods.
Garry Ray-Ray Bolamba: Allow this man to powerbomb you.
Shinji gulps, Garry smirks. Sid stares at him with those eyes of his, those very sexually powerful eyes that might compel weaker men to bend over, waiting to be powerbombed. You know those eyes. Maybe someday, Komiya-san will be able to stand with the legends of Bang! Pro Wrestling. Today is not that day. Today is a day for powerbombs. Komiya is compelled to bend over, and then nature takes over from there.
Because as we all know in nature, the powerbomb is the natural predator of the rhino. They teach that shit in biology.
Garry Ray-Ray Bolamba: Mr. Phillips, just so you know, indiscriminately powerbombing things is legal in Bolambaland.
Sid goes to speak. The Generalissimo silences him with a simple gesture and stands up to his full height, aided by the small stage, Garry towers over the two Glue Boys.
Garry Ray-Ray Bolamba: Ain’t even just legal, actually we encourage indiscriminate powerbombing. A man like yerself would have a wonderful life in Bolambaland…
Joe Fontaine: You know, he’s kinda… well, he’s kinda spoken for? In a platonic, brother-in-law kind of way, I mean. Wow. The fanfic writers are gonna have a field day with that one.
Garry Ray-Ray Bolamba: Mr. Fontaine, I have let Mr. Phillips powerbomb one of my men. Now, present me with the gifts you bring me as payment.
The darkness is now alive, wings flutter, beasts roar, rhino’s whimper somberly, The Beasts of Tokyo step out of the darkness first, and a mysterious birdman lumbers off of the stage and down in front of Joe and Sid. The Generalissimo steps to the edge of the stage and outstretches his hand.
Garry Ray-Ray Bolamba: The gifts.
Joe Fontaine: Wait, gifts? I was supposed to bring gifts? Since when? I wasn’t consulted about this in my Bolambaland pamphlet.
Sid Phillips shoves him and mutters under his breath.
Sid Phillips: Jesus Christ. How did you not know you needed gifts? Even I know that you needed a gift!
Sid reaches into the inside of his pocket, and pulls out several cards, passing them over to Garry.
Sid Phillips: Dale trading cards. Admittedly, I didn’t know if you already had these or not, but better safe than sorry.
He gestures to Joe.
Sid Phillips: He’s about to be sorry.
Garry Ray-Ray Bolamba: Your gift Mr. Phillips is appreciated, they will go into the Bolambaland treasury to be saved and cared for with the utmost care.
A trading card binder is produced that says “BOLAMBALAND TREASURY” on it in black sharpie and the Dale cards are placed within. The Generalissimo turns to Joe and steps down off of the stage.
Garry Ray-Ray Bolamba: Bare your cheek Joe…
Joe Fontaine: Okay, that’s weird, but… y’know what, this sounds like some sort of Bolambaland tradition and I don’t want to step on any cultural toes here.
He starts to undo his belt, but he only gets as far as undoing the buckle before he’s stopped by a huge hand.
Garry Ray-Ray Bolamba: Your face cheek, I’m not your father… but if he would have beaten his insolent son more, maybe he would have grown up ta be more respectful of other cultures. Bare your fuckin’ cheek.
Joe pauses, before he recognizes exactly which cheek he’s referring to.
Joe Fontaine: Oh. This is going to suck, isn’t it?
Garry Ray-Ray Bolamba: Very much.
Most mortal men who get slapped by the slap fighting champion of Nelson County, Kentucky are usually rendered a weeping pile of pudding. Joe Fontaine takes it and does a full on pirouette that sends him spiraling to the ground in a heap. Then he becomes a weeping pile of pudding.
Garry Ray-Ray Bolamba: Now… that we’ve handled the pleasantries. Tell me more about your request.
Joe Fontaine groans on the ground for a hot minute. Everyone waits patiently for him to stop crying.
Sid Phillips: Stop crying.
Okay, almost everyone.
Joe Fontaine: pain
Sid Phillips: You know, that was like a 2 on the official Garry “Ray-Ray” Bolamba slap index. A 2! I mean, once you get to 5, you don’t have a face any more. Unless it’s been replaced with the Enhanced Bolamba scale, which I’m sure you’re a big fan of and you don’t have any weird opinions about.
Sid looks over at Garry apologetically.
Sid Phillips: I’m sorry about Joe. He was raised by wolves.
Considering the kind of man Joey Malone is, that might not be too far from the truth.
Sid Phillips: You’re welcome to take said wolves into Bolambaland if you want, I’m sure he won’t mind.
Garry nods with appreciation for Sid Phillips’ wise words.
Garry Ray-Ray Bolamba: The request.
Sid Phillips: Right. We’re here to humbly ask for your officiating expertise in our rock-paper-scissors challenge with the Masters of the Moscowverse.
Garry Ray-Ray Bolamba: Capitalism and communism… and now they finally need monsterism. I told ya’ll they’d come callin’ fer us. It’s a big three! Not a big two! I’d be honored ta officiate this matter of competing political ideologies…
Joe Fontaine: awesome
Sid Phillips: Alright, cool. We’ll see you there, then.
Sid looks down at Joe.
Sid Phillips: Get off the floor, dipshit, we’re out.
It takes Joe a bit of time to find whatever parts of his soul that Garry slapped out of him, but he eventually gets up just as ReVival cuts back to ringside for our next match.
DAYTONA DIAMONDS VS. KAZUHIRO TROY
Vince Howard: The following match is one fall–
And then a flock of owls descends from the rafters of the KFC YUM! Center and the fans all dodge furiously, hoping to not have their eyeballs plucked from their skulls (owls do that, right?).
Nick Stuart: Well, that was odd.
Richard Parker: Ha, marks.
Nick Stuart: Our third match of the evening will see Kazuhiro Troy, the adopted son of PRIME Hall of Famer —
Richard Parker: — and owner —
Nick Stuart: Yes, and owner, I was getting there. Kazuhiro, the son of Lindsay Troy squaring off against the Rhinestone Cowboy himself, Daytona Diamonds.
Richard Parker: These two went at it on ReVival 36.
Nick Stuart: That would go without saying. Kaz punched Daytona and then Wade went on to break his nose. Daytona retaliated later on in the evening by nearly choking Kaz out with a steel chain–
Richard Parker: That was pretty bad ass if you ask me.
Nick Stuart: Nothing bad ass about it! Kaz could’ve had his career ended before it started.
Richard Parker: Hm. Good point. Plus, you know, LT signs the checks.
Nick Stuart: Exactly. Let’s get this party started.
Lights out. A tumbleweed blows across the screen, from left to right. A solitary figure steps out onto the stage, cloaked in shadows. Four twangy notes play on a detuned guitar.
“Goin’ Out West” by Tom Waits.
The fans immediately start to boo before the music even picks up, before that driving bass hits and a single spotlight pierces through the darkness, gliding up the ramp before it settles on Daytona Diamonds.
I’M GOIN’ OUT WEST WHERE THE WIND BLOWS TALL
Vince Howard: Making his way to the ring… weighing in at two hundred and forty-five pounds…
The Rhinestone Cowboy starts to make his way down the ramp, the spotlight following after him and making all those rhinestones glimmer and gleam. Instead of his usual white outfit, Daytona’s dressed in blood red from his hat to his boots, that usual cocky grin replaced with a look of anger, of contempt, of violence.
Vince Howard: From Carson City, Nevada… The Rhinestone Cowboy… DAAAAAYTONA DIIIIIAMOMDS!
More booing. More jeers. Angry chants, buried beneath Tom Waits’ incessant growl. Daytona doesn’t seem to mind, circling the ring and stopping for just a moment to look at Ami Troy. A grin curls on his lips before he tips his hat to her, quickly moving on to climb the ring steps.
In the center of the ring, the spotlight shines down on him, one hand pointed up at the sky in the shape of a gun. As the house lights slowly come back on, Daytona moves to his corner, removing his jacket and tossing it to the outside of the ring. He takes off his hat and places it on top of the turnbuckle before leaning back against the ropes, his eyes like daggers, waiting for Kaz to walk out and receive the ass-whooping of a lifetime.
Nick Stuart: Man, if looks could kill.
Richard Parker: Exactly! LOOK at the face of Daytona! That poor, innocent face. He just wanted to drink in his saloon and Kaz assaulted him for no reason.
Nick Stuart: Sure. Daytona has been impressive since his debut and he could be picking up his third victory tonight.
Richard Parker: If Lindsay Troy had any self-respect, she would have pulled Kaz out of this match and given him a spanking!
Nick Stuart: You go ahead and tell her that.
Richard Parker: …I’m good.
The lights cut out briefly before bathing the PRIMEates in purple and gold. Reverberations, synth beats, and atmospheric violins reminiscent of a Classical composer engulf the KFC Yum! Center as the introduction to “Majesty” by Apashe feat. Waisu begins playing.
I’m the shit, use your throne as my toilet seat
I demand the king’s ransom for royalties
I deserve a mansion, I’m royalty
Address me your majesty
To form a new dynasty
The old one was dying, see?
I am your highness, please
Address me your majesty
The side of the PRIME*VIEW lights up in purple and gold while words slowly fade-in on the screen in bold, golden text.
K A Z U H I R O T R O Y
H E I R A P P A R E N T
Instant classic, that’s classical gold art
Urban blacksmith; black-fisted Mozart
From the bridge, we hit the drop, and pyro booms from either side of the stage. Kaz Troy walks out from the curtain with a confident swagger and a grin a mile wide. He takes a moment to stop and soak in the moment, nodding his head as his song keeps playing. He runs his fingers through his hair, gives the fans a wink, and then walks down the ramp.
Vince Howard: And his opponent…from Tampa, Florida! Weighing in at 235 pounds…he is the Heir Apparent…KAZUHIROOOOOO TROOOOYYYYYYY!
Kaz makes his way around ringside, slapping hands with a few fans before stopping at the guardrail to give dap to his sister and his Les Enfant Terribles stablemates. Ami, Archer Silver, High Flyer IV, and Killjoy all give the BRAZEN champion some last words of encouragement before he slides under the bottom rope. As Kaz enters the ring, he ducks under the wild clothesline from Diamonds and bounces off the ropes before connecting with a Busaiku Knee that sends Diamonds crashing to the mat and rolling under the bottom rope. Daytona shakes his head in fury as he puts his hands on his rhinestone-encrusted hips. As he turns around, he sees Kaz holding onto the top rope and launches himself over the top rope for a splash. Daytona quickly moves out of the way, tapping his skull to show off his smartness, only to turn around and see Kaz on the ring apron. Kaz immediately leaps onto the middle rope and connects with a springboard moonsault!
Nick Stuart: And we are off to the races here.
Richard Parker: Something tells me these two are going to do everything short of murdering one another.
Nick Stuart: That could be very true, but I would think it’s not in Daytona’s best interests in murdering Kazuhrio.
Richard Parker: Oh really? You don’t say?
Kaz takes Diamonds, and Irish Whips him into the ringside barricade. Daytona collapses onto the floor mat, crawling away from Troy. Kaz slams the end of his boot into the midsection of Diamonds. Daytona flips onto this back, in a world of hurt, but he doesn’t remain there long as Kaz yanks him off the floor and rolls him back into the ring. Diamonds stumbles up to his feet as Kaz hops onto the ring apron. As Daytona turns towards Kaz, he springboards off the top rope and goes for a flying clothesline. Diamonds rushes forward and bounces off the ropes as Kaz crashes onto the ring mat. As Troy gets to his feet, he is mowed down with a stiff clothesline that sends Kaz flipping inside out.
Richard Parker: Talk about two guys looking to move onto the next round. You have to wonder if Kaz would even be here if it weren’t for the nepotism thing.
Nick Stuart: You know that’s not the case, but say it a little louder, why don’t you? I think I heard the fluttering of wings coming from the backstage area.
Richard Parker: That doesn’t scare m– OH SWEET JESUS!
Nick Stuart: Richard is hiding under the desk after a remaining owl shot straight for his head. You should have seen it, it looked like he knew it was Richard or something. Weird.
Diamonds catches a rising Kazuhiro with a knife-edge chop that rings throughout the arena and sends Kaz crashing into the nearby ropes. Daytona fires off a straight right that sends spittle flying out of Kaz’s mouth and into the crowd. Diamonds then connects with an uppercut that sends Kaz stumbling into the nearby corner. Daytona fires off a series of stiff kicks to Kaz’s midsection before Irish Whips him across the ring and sternum-first into the opposite turnbuckles. Kaz collapses backward as Daytona rises and drops his knee across Troy’s face.
Nick Stuart: And you could see a bit of retribution there from Diamonds, as he wanted to damage the pretty face of Kaz.
Richard Parker: He does have a pretty face, you know.
Nick Stuart: Well, not if Diamonds has his say tonight.
Richard Parker: And well, that’s Kaz’s fault, because Daytona has a face that makes women in saloons swoon.
Nick Stuart: Sure. Whatever you say.
Daytona reaches down and begins to pull Kaz up to his feet only for Troy to retaliate with an elbow to the midsection. Diamonds doubles over as the wind races out of his lungs. Kaz slams his knee into the brittle face of the Rhinestone Cowboy, which sends Diamonds crashing to the mat, feet slamming into the canvas as the pain radiates from his nose. Kaz wastes no time as he mounts Diamonds and slams his elbow across Daytona’s vulnerable face. He then rises to his feet, steps onto the bottom rope, and launches himself into the air before dropping a knee across his opponent’s throat.
Richard Parker: Kaz is out there trying to re-break Daytona’s nose!
Nick Stuart: I don’t think he tried that on purpose!
Richard Parker: That knee landed flush with his nose.
Nick Stuart: I think those things just happen, Richard.
Richard Parker: And then got up, looked at Ami, and said ‘I got his nose!’
Nick Stuart: Well, I don’t think there’s anything else I can say there.
Diamonds rolls out under the bottom rope, needing a moment to catch himself, but Kazuhiro is right after him as he slips through the top two ropes onto the ring apron. Diamonds turns towards Kaz, and the child of the Hall of Famer rushes at Diamonds and goes for a flying head-scissors only for Daytona to catch him. He holds him up on his shoulders for a moment before slamming him back first onto the edge of the ring apron. Kaz slides down onto the floor, pain etched in his face.
Richard Parker: And what a sickening thud there as Kaz’s spine met the edge of the ring.
Nick Stuart: That ring-edge powerbomb has become an increasing favorite of many in the industry and it has great impact, visually and physically. Meanwhile, Ivan is laughing about it.
Richard Parker: Kaz might need to see a chiropractor.
Nick Stuart: I imagine the Troy family has one on retainer.
Daytona sizes his opponent up and drives the tip of his boot into the chest of Kaz. The sound echoes throughout the arena as Kaz slumps forward. Daytona looks over at Ami and blows her a kiss before picking up her twin brother and yanks him up to his feet, driving his elbow into his throat before connecting with a gut-wrench suplex onto the ring apron. Kaz’s body thuds against the hard surface while Diamonds makes his way up to the top turnbuckle. He looks at Ami once again and waves at her before connecting with both feet into the midsection of her brother.
Nick Stuart: Diamonds taking it to the Heir Apparent.
Richard Parker: And flirting with Ami Troy to boot, I knew I liked the moxie of that kid!
Nick Stuart: I don’t think Ami is going to give him the time of day.
Richard Parker: Oh, please. Ami would be lucky to get a man as good as Daytona! He’s got enough fashion sense for both of them!
Nick Stuart: If you call that fashion.
Diamonds watches as Kaz tries to make his way up to his feet and inches towards him. With Kaz dazed, Diamonds connects with a headbutt with the side of his skull against the side of Kaz’s skull. Troy stumbles away only for Daytona to grab him by the back of his skull. Diamonds tries to slam Kaz’s face into the ringside barricade, but Troy slams his elbow into Daytona’s midsection and then whips around with a stiff forearm that cracks through the arena and drops Diamonds to both knees. Kaz slips over the ringside barricade and measures Daytona up before slingshotting off the ringside barricade and connects with a dropkick to the kneeling Diamonds, square in his face.
Nick Stuart: Hell, Daytona might need to get his teeth checked out after that.
Richard Parker: The bruising on these two is starting to show and Daytona just spit blood out of his mouth. Is Elvis Nixon going to do anything? Stop flirting with Ami, you perv!
Nick Stuart: I don’t think he’s flirting with Ami, but making sure she and the Les Enfants Terribles stay out of the way of the proceedings of this match.
Richard Parker: How unfair of them to show up to this match, Bee-Tee-Dubs.
Nick Stuart: …what?
Richard Parker: You heard me!
Kaz takes Daytona and rolls him back into the ring before slipping in behind him. Daytona stumbles to his feet only for Troy to connect with a side suplex that drops Daytona onto the back of his skull. Kaz rolls through it, grabbing Daytona’s leg in the process and putting him into a half-Boston Crab before hooking his leg and locking in an STF! Diamonds howls in pain as Kaz wrenches back on Daytona’s face, inflicting as much damage as he can onto the broken nose of the Rhinestone Cowboy. Diamonds grits through the pain as the referee checks on if he wants to tap out.
Ivan then stands up and heads backstage
Richard Parker: Elvis, disqualify that man! Do you not see the pain he is causing Daytona?! This is ridiculous! That is an injury and Elvis is doing nothing to protect Daytona.
Nick Stuart: This is all fair game! Daytona was cleared, he knew the risks, and how else is Kaz supposed to lock the STF in? And where do you think Ivan went?
Richard Parker: He could do it under the chin, around the neck! And how should I know?
Nick Stuart: So you want him to choke out Daytona now, do you?
Richard Parker: …shit.
Diamonds begins crawling toward the bottom rope, grunting as he does so. Kaz tries to readjust the hold he has on Daytona and that gives Diamonds the opening he wants as he clamps his teeth around the hand of the Heir Apparent. Troy rolls away, grabbing at his hand, while Diamonds grabs onto the middle rope to help pull himself up to his feet. Diamonds then plants his boot into the midsection of the rising Kazuhiro and connects with a Northern Lights Suplex. Daytona rolls through it before dragging Kaz up to his feet and connects with a second Northern Lights Suplex. Daytona rolls through it one more time and connects with a third, this time bridging Northern Lights Suplex.
Nick Stuart: What athleticism being shown by Daytona Diamonds right there! The trio of Northern Lights Suplex and the last one being a bridging one.
Richard Parker: And he’s having difficulty breathing! Elvis needs to practice his counting, that was clearly a three count.
Nick Stuart: It was not. Kaz managed to get his shoulder up in the nick of time, breaking the bridge.
Richard Parker: Lies, you spit lies and I will not allow you to do so, Nick. I challenge you to a duel.
Nick Stuart: Are you going to come out from underneath the table?
Richard Parker: …not until the owl leaves.
Daytona grabs Kaz off of the mat and whips him into the ropes before attempting a discus elbow, but Kaz ducks underneath it. As Kaz rebounds off the ropes, he connects with a Sling Blade onto the Rhinestone Cowboy. The Heir Apparent rises to his feet and plants his boot into the midsection of Diamonds before connecting with a double underhook piledriver! He then goes for the cover on Daytona.
Nick Stuart: The Royal Treament almost put Daytona Diamonds away there.
Richard Parker: How dare he, trying to damage that precious neck. Daytona better get that thing encrusted with rhinestones as well.
Nick Stuart: If he has any more rhinestones, we’ll all be blind.
Richard Parker: Yes, blinded with his genius!
Kaz gets back up to his feet and yells for Daytona to rise to his. Diamonds slowly acquiesces, his body drained from the back-and-forth match. Kaz connects with a forearm shot before wrapping his arms around Daytona’s waist and attempts a Saito Suplex. Diamonds blocks it though, slamming his boot into Kaz’s, giving him the clearance he needs as he whips Kaz into the corner and follows it up with a running clothesline. Kaz slumps in the corner, sitting up thanks to the bottom turnbuckle. Daytona rushes to the opposite corner and connects with a running basement dropkick before dragging him out of the corner and going for the pinfall.
Richard Parker: OH THE BOOT SCOOTIN’ BOOGIE GOT THE THREE!
Nick Stuart: No, it didn’t.
Richard Parker: It should have! How dense is Elvis?!
Nick Stuart: Not at all, actually. He’s a Rhodes Scholar, did you know that?
Richard Parker: What do I care that he knows about roads?
Nick Stuart: I– never mind.
Diamonds glares at Evlis before getting back up to his feet. He struts around the ring, finding Ami and blowing more kisses at her. Kaz stumbles back to his feet and Diamonds locks onto him and goes for a running clothesline on Kaz only for Troy to slip behind him, wrapping his arms around his waist, and connects with a release German Suplex. Diamonds lands on the back of his head and rolls back onto his knees, dazed. As he gets up to his feet, he goes for a kick, but Kaz grabs his leg and connects with a corkscrew dragon whip, sending Diamonds crashing to the mat. Kazuhiro then pulls Diamonds up to his feet and then connects with a corkscrew neckbreaker drop! He then goes for the cover.
Nick Stuart: These two men are pulling out all of the stops here! That corkscrew neckbreaker drop could have won the match!
Richard Parker: And ended Daytona’s life. Whose side are you on here, Nick?!
Nick Stuart: I don’t take a side, but Kaz. Definitely Kaz.
Richard Parker: Your lack of journalistic integrity is soul-rattling.
Nick Stuart: What about you?
Richard Parker: Oh, I sold my integrity a long time ago! Everyone knows that!
Kaz sits up, his chest heaving, before he pushes himself up to his feet. He walks over to Diamonds and goes to drag him up to his feet, but Diamonds reverses it into an inside cradle. He only gets a two-count, but both men are quick to their feet. Kaz connects with a spinning heel kick into the midsection of Diamonds and then goes for a reverse STO only for Diamonds to slam his elbow into the side of Kaz’s skull. Kaz turns away from Diamonds and as he turns back towards his opponent, Daytona connects with a cutter (How The West Was Won). He goes for the pinfall.
Richard Parker: ELVIS! ONE! TWO! THREE! IT IS NOT TOUGH! DO YOUR JOB!
Nick Stuart: Daytona in SHOCK after he hit the How the West Was Won and it didn’t keep Kaz down!
Richard Parker: Kaz… you have a dynasty behind you! You don’t need to win this match!
Nick Stuart: He wants to carve his own path in life.
Richard Parker: Well, that’s stupid.
Diamonds sits up and looks at the spunky Kazuhiro Troy and slowly nods his head. Daytona gets up to his feet and makes his way to the nearby corner, taking his time climbing to the top of it. He stands at the top of it, a bit uneasily, but then locks eyes with Ami and smiles before leaping off the top rope and driving both knees into the back of Kaz’s skull. He then flips Troy over onto his back and hooks the leg.
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: Your winner, and moving on to the second round of the Almasy Tournament… DAYTONA! DIAMONDS!
Richard Parker: Yeah, baby!
Nick Stuart: You are far too excited. Daytona connected with the Blood Meridian and after that, it was all said and done.
Richard Parker: The right person won, that’s all that matters.
Ami and LET look none too pleased at the result. Daytona cocks his head to the side and smiles before sliding out of the ring, proud of his victory. He exits the ring, bruising evident around his face and chest. Kaz looks just as bad, as he gets to his feet and spits out blood.
Nick Stuart: Not the way that Kaz wanted that one to end, but he has nothing to be ashamed of. Let’s head backstage, where I understand we have… oh no. It’s Ivan Stanislav. Take it away.
We cut to the backstage area.
EVERYONE. SAY. LENIN!!
Ivan Stanislav’s locker room is a large and spacious affair, suitable for a man of such massive dimensions.
Because he’s the Universal Champion now, silly.
Didn’t you know?
In the much larger room reserved for a man of his newfound status, one would think it would be cozy.
True to his communist roots, Stanislav’s room is jam packed with people.
Alexei Ruslan checks his watch, wearing his ubiquitous brown overcoat, pants, and hat. Next to him stands Arina Timofeyevna, Stanislav’s personal assistant. The young girl’s hair is back in a neat ponytail as she adjusts the dark suit she wears, with a small Russian flag pinned to her lapel. Kenny Freeman and Randall Schwartz stand together a few feet from Arina, with Randall very happy to be here while Kenny is still recovering from his match against Darin Zion earlier in the night.
Behind them all, near one of the nearby mini-fridges, is Maksim Stepanov. He’s not dressed casually, but not nearly as well as Arina. With his greasy, slicked back blonde hair, he has on a red polo shirt and khaki pants.
Speedy Riggs, true to his name, speeds in from the right and claps his hands. Riggs wears a red and yellow Hawaiian shirt, complete with hammers and sickles all about, which brings out the real “easy going proletarian” vibe along with a black belt and pants. His afro bobbles as he looks about.
Speedy Riggs: Okay, he’s coming!
Ruslan exhales and nods his head. He looks over his shoulder at Maksim and hisses once.
Alexei Ruslan: Fall in, Maksim!
When Ruslan turns back to the camera, Maksim briefly rolls his eyes and shambles over next to the Masters of the Moscowerse.
It’s not an earthquake, but if there was a glass of water nearby it certainly would be rippling. All members of The Red Army can feel it, while Riggs pulls a microphone out from his back pocket and looks at the camera.
Speedy Riggs: Okay Yanukovich, you have the shot?
The camera bobs up and down. A nod. That explains where the techie, Yanukovich, must be. Speedy nods and looks at the camera.
Speedy Riggs: Comrades of PRIME! This is the official Red Army interviewer, Speedy Riggs, and at any mom—
The door, off camera, swings open with a WHOOSH and a SLAM as the behemoth Universal Champion, Ivan Stanislav, barges into the room with the Universal Title firmly around his wide waist. Whatever was on the wall where the door slammed is now pulverized.
The camera has to adjust upwards so as not to cut Ivan’s head off. The group behind Riggs beam with expectation while Stanislav stands next to Riggs and flails his arms. Riggs composes himself while Stanislav speaks in Russian.
Ivan Stanislav: Я опаздываю?! (Am I late?!)
Alexei, Speedy, and Arina nearly talk over each other.
Alexei Ruslan: Нет. (No.)
Arina Timofeyevna: Нет, Старший Прапорщик. (No, Strashy Praporshchik.)
Speedy Riggs: No! Right on time, Comrade Universal Champion!
Randall gives a thumbs up with a smile, hoping Stanislav reads that as the “all clear” it is intended to be, while Kenny confirms this verbally.
Kenny Freeman: All clear!
See? Simple, easy.
Stanislav turns to the camera and his mouth spreads into a wide smile.
Ivan Stanislav: Well then, dear friends of PRIME! Your Universal Champion takes time out of busy ringside post to offer to you fantastic news! Today, we reveal guest of great honor tonight! Last ReVival, Speedy Riggs made triumphant return to Red Army, and so many others have been clamoring to be part of this great organization of ours. But! This is not done willy-nilly, people of PRIME. I want to introduce consistent, great friend of Red Army:
Stanislav motions off to the side, and much to the shock of the entire KFC YUM! Center as they watch on PRIMEview, none other than PRIME’s Worst Nightmare, The Perilously Provocative Painmonger, Arthur Pleasant, walks in next to him.
Ivan Stanislav: Arthur Pleasant!!
Stanislav lets out his raucous laugh and clasps his hand on Pleasant’s shoulder, engulfing it. Meek Arina gently shifts away from Pleasant and swaps places with Alexei, so that Arthur is flanked by Ivan and Alexei and she is away from him. It’s clear to Arthur that he is beaming with pride being situated between these two benevolent souls.
Ivan Stanislav: Arthur. Few people know great injustices which exist in PRIME as well as you do. Management of this company do very little to help protect you. Hooliganism is rampant. It is but small consolation that I am, of course, Universal Champion.
Stanislav clears his throat and studies Pleasant carefully.
Ivan Stanislav: Arthur. You have been friend of Russia for long time. Why, you were born in Alaska, which by rights should still be Russian. You have consistently stood up for little guy, like all of us do. You have fought with passion and fervor and without restraint. You have unabashedly defended myself and my comrades, and have shown, through and through, strength of your ironclad character.
Ivan looks over Arthur’s head for a moment to Alexei, and then back down at “Wrestling’s Worst Nightmare.”
Ivan Stanislav: This is why I, Starshy Praporshchik Stanislav, invite you to join ranks of Red Army. It is not small responsibility, however, Arthur. You must pledge to defend us all as your closest comrades. You must stand against the tyranny of capitalists who poison PRIME. I will tolerate no selfishness or bourgeois thinking. Of course, same sentiment is extended to you. Every member is valuable piece of revolutionary struggle which must be cultivated. So then, what do you say?
Pleasant drops to his knees rather harshly, in what looks to be a short prayer of some kind. Ivan looks at Alexei, who shrugs, indicating a certain level of aloofness to Arthur doing this. A minute, maybe less, goes by and he finally gets back to his feet.
Arthur Pleasant: My apologies, Starshy Praporshchik Stanislav. I felt compelled to thank the Gods for this moment. Ever since I was a young boy, I relished the thought of being a part of something bigger. When I arrived in HOW and Leeroy Best accepted Jeffrey James Roberts and I into the “Best Alliance,” I never felt like we were a part of something bigger. I felt like we were mere pawns in a visionless quest for interfamily power. When I was in the SHOOT Project and tried to lead my friends to the promised land, only for them to abandon me right before we reached the pinnacle of success, it was nothing short of demoralizing.
Pleasant pauses, semi-genuinely wiping away tears.
Arthur Pleasant: But to hear you say those words, Starshy Praporshchik? To hear you invite me into your cause? It’s like a MegaElixir to the heart. I would die for you, Ivan! And you, Alexei! A thousand times over, even if it meant an eternity of rusty needles being shoved up my dickhole. I will not allow our enemies to storm the gates and try to subvert our faith in this… this war. I pledge my undying loyalty to you, Starshy Praporshchik! Now, with what sharp tool do I need to slice my hand open, for this pledge? Is there a sieve nearby I can drain my wrists into for The Red Army? Because I will-
Pleasant stops himself mid-sentence and pulls out a small razor blade.
Arthur Pleasant: -be more than happy to give as much blood as needed for the cause! Just tell me where to cut and I’m your Jigsawberry.
He goes to rip into his arm…
…Alexei looks for a sieve in his pockets…
…Arina yelps and covers her eyes…
…Speedy silently whistles and his eyes widen…
…and Stanislav grips Pleasant’s razor blade wielding hand at the wrist and holds it fast.
Ivan Stanislav: Comrade Pleasant. I appreciate bloodletting for cause! But why not save it for ring, and make it come from Coral Avalon, eh?
Stanislav’s expression grows a little harder and carries with it a bit more seriousness.
Ivan Stanislav: Make your first match in The Red Army a win.
Arthur nods. Pleasantly.
Arthur Pleasant: Oh. Well, I mean, that’s a lot less painful.
Arthur Pleasant: For me, at least.
Stanislav claps and straightens his back. His height enables him to not only tower over everyone around him, but also seemingly wrap up the entire room. Riggs is smiling happily, Alexei rubs his hands together, Randall and Kenny just look at each other, almost bewildered by the decision, Arina smiles nervously and Maksim idly looks at this phone, then snaps up at the cameras.
In that moment, Arthur suddenly disappears from the camera?! There’s rustling out of camera shot, and as Yanukovich angles the camera down (and cuts off Ivan’s head), Arthur has crawled behind Alexei, to the other side of Arina, and sits cross-cross, bearing his infamous fangs for the camera. He flutters his hair back and tries to roughly comb it with his right hand, but doesn’t exactly succeed. Arina jumps, as if a rat crawled across her shoe, and she rushes behind Alexei and Ivan to the other side of The Russian Bear and nearly clings to him.
Ivan Stanislav spreads his arms wide.
Ivan Stanislav: Here we are, PRIME! Another member of Red Army! Another individual who understands importance of collective effort. Together, as one, we shall smash all who stand in our way! The Red Era continues and nothing, and no one, can stop us!
The mass of humanity is telling. The Red Army stands as a force capable of attack on all fronts. Logistically from Maksim, Yanukovich, and the slowly relaxing Arina, to comrades of old who have answered the call like Speedy Riggs. The Masters of the Moscowverse, despite their initial hesitation to say the least, are quick to bring contemporary energy and relevance otherwise lost to the older members. Behind the eyes of smirking Alexei Ruslan is nothing but zeal, and the overpowering force of will, not to mention physical prowess, of Ivan Stanislav almost eclipses them all. But now? The seated, smirking, sharp toothed Arthur Pleasant offers chaotic precision and wholesale bloodletting.
It is a picture perfect moment that Speedy Riggs cannot miss. He pulls a phone out of his pocket and tosses it up to Ivan, who barely catches it without crushing it.
Speedy Riggs: Ivan! Take a selfie, huh?!
Stanislav smirks, and after an awkward moment of making the phone work, because the phone is so small, and he is so big, he stretches his huge arm out and turns the camera to the side.
Ivan Stanislav: Everyone. Say. LENIN!!!
Everyone more or less says “LENIN” as the shutter clicks on the phone and Ivan tosses it back to Speedy Riggs. While there’s cheering, hooping, and hollering amongst the gathered masses of red revolutionaries, not to mention many congratulations for Arthur Pleasant, one sound is certainly most prevalent.
We don’t need to put whose name it goes along with. You know.
MANIC STREET PREACHER
Nick Stuart: I’ve been informed Don Winters is outside, and we’re going to take a look at what’s going on there.
Richard Parker: The Revelator is revelating, baby!
The live feed cuts to the main entrance of the KFC Yum! Center. Don Winters stands on an upturned wooden crate, dressed in his usual all-white, with a crimson button-down, and the Roman collar prominently hugging his neck. The property’s fountain has been set to spout water in tune to each wrestler’s theme music, and is momentarily dormant. The lion’s share of the crowd has long since filtered inside the arena, but a few stragglers are still wandering around.
Don Winters: There is no word but His Word! No light but His Light!
He clutches at golden colored papers in one hand, quickly trying to pass one off to a fan, but they ignore his attempts.
Don Winters: You have been brainwashed to part with your hard earned money, and for what!?
Another fan passes by and stops for a moment, Winters senses an opportunity.
Don Winters: You there!
The fan looks up at Don Winters while halfway through a pull on his cigarette. He’s confused, but decides to give him the time.
Winters hands one of the papers in his hand to the fan. The man reluctantly takes it and quickly glances at it, turning the golden paper over in his hand. He seems quite nonplussed about the entire exchange.
Don Winters: Do you realize what filth and sin you are watching by supporting these wrestlers each and every week? A Godless and Communist champion. Another man who uses shock collars on others without a second thought. Men and women who are freely using illicit drugs, setting a terrible example for children! Have you ever stopped to think for a moment how this is damning your eternal soul?
The fan exhales a puff of smoke from his lungs and sighs, looking up to meet Don Winters’ intense gaze.
Fan: Look man, I’m just on a break, walking by, I have no idea what you’re talking about.
He drops the golden piece of paper and it flutters harmlessly to the ground, leaving Winters alone with the slight stink of nicotine in his nostrils.
Don Winters: And you will be damned, too! By His Word and His Light, you will be damned!
The Revelator grits his teeth and recomposes himself. This is not a place to feel or show defeat.
Don Winters: I stand before you all today, a humble man. I stand before you as a man who has found clarity and purpose, and I aim to offer that to all of you. Peace of mind for today, tomorrow and the rest of your life. Freedom from sin and the satisfaction of knowing what truly waits for you at the end. Absolution.
He’s still alone, nobody is left around to lend him an ear, but he feels something rising within him.
Don Winters: From Crash Jackson, who put up a commendable fight, to Cancer Jiles and beyond, it is my duty to provide PRIME with the faith they are so sorely lacking. For too long PRIME has decided to spare the rod and spoil the child. Well, I am that rod and it’s time for the children to learn their place.
He licks his lips after the last sentence, as if he’s tasting something incredible. The Revelator’s fist clenches the paper and punches the sky.
Don Winters: The Revelator is here to write the book of PRIME, and they are not ready for their reckoning.
Winters throws the papers from his hand to the sky, watching as they flutter all around him. The camera zooms in on one of them, a copy of the Golden Ticket. Just before the camera can cut elsewhere, that zoomed in on Golden Ticket is snatched out of thin air. The camera hastily zooms out, and reveals it’s not Don Winters who grabbed it, but none other than Cancer Jiles himself.
Thee, Golden Ticket.
Cancer Jiles: I think you might have dropped this.
The Revelator is a touch taken aback from the startling surprise. Jiles, of course, is not. As for the rotund Beautiful Bobby Dean who is also in tow, well he simply snickers in the background.
Or it’s just the sound of his breathing.
Don Winters: Keep it. Your pride will befall you much like it did Crash Jackson.
The booming obnoxiousness of Jiles’ laughter would lead one to believe he genuinely thinks what Don said is funny. Granted, for all the wrong reasons. The frosting over of his T-shades, and the peacock posturing might tell a different story.
Cancer Jiles: Good one, Dan.
Don Winters: It’s Don.
Cancer Jiles: Whatever. Say Dim, before I forget I wanted to ask you something. Tell me, how do you like your eggs?
Well, the blowing of the wind does at least. Winters glances over at Bobby, who just so happens to be lofting an egg up and down while a big, devious looking grin covers his face and presumably belly button.
Don Winters: Much like yourself, I prefer them all in the same basket, you cromb.
For real this time.
Bobby, maybe for the first time ever, or today, or this hour even, drops the egg. Splat. He is so dumbfounded he commits a cardinal sin. Jiles is no better; with his mouth paused in the vastly agape position. There’s no telling if it’s like that because of what Winters said to him, Bobby’s bad luck botch, or if he just realized Coral is still in cryostasis.
Could be a combination of all three.
Don Winters: That’s what I thought. At 38, I will grant you absolution and your Golden Ticket will be mine. He demands it.
The production trailer lingers for a moment, the camera focuses on ground, capturing the splattered egg. Yolk and bits of shell cover one of the Revelator’s golden tickets as the segment cuts to the backstage area.
BROSEPH STALIN? NO, THAT’S NOT IT…
After a revelationary message from Don Winters, the camera pans backstage where Eddie Cross is leaving the locker room in his faded jeans and olive drab GG shirt. As he turns from closing the door behind himself he nearly runs face first into Max Kael?’s personal enforcer, Violent Purple.
She takes the initiative and presses him against the wall, and Eddie, for his part, lets it happen without a struggle.
Eddie Cross: We have to quit running into one another like this, people are going to start talking.
Violent Purple narrows her eyes at Eddie’s face, studying it carefully before letting out a low sigh.
Violent Purple: We could probably stop running into each other like this if we just decided on a single place to intentionally run into each other. Don’t you agree?
Eddie looks back and forth. His haunting green eyes narrow… from a calculating smile.
Eddie Cross: You’re a lot more up front than the old lady you hang out with. Not in a bad way… but I gotta ask… what’s your game?
She cocks her head to the side before grunting. Violent steps back giving Eddie some space before she crosses her arms across her back.
Violent Purple: Couth has her uses, she just doesn’t usually have to deal with people face to face. You need to move money around? She’s a magician. Speaking of money, that’s the game you were asking about. I want to make money. Winners make money. Max Kael? is a personal investment of mine and his success is my success. But we know life can be a shitty turn, can’t it? Helps when there are people around that can make themselves useful. I’ve noticed you’ve hit a little turn around since UltraViolence. I’ve also noticed you’ve taken notice of my investment. Everything making sense so far, darling?
Eddie Cross: Funny, you talking like Max isn’t a person and instead he’s just a source of money.
The Samoan sizes up the fiery haired vixen.
Eddie Cross: My grams used to tell me about women like you. She called you The Mata o le Alelo… ‘Eyes of the Demon’. I admit I didn’t believe her at the time, but now that you’re standing in front of me… yeah, it makes perfect sense.
Violent rolls her tongue over her gums in thought as she ponders on what he just called her. The moment passes and an agreeable expression affixes itself on her pale face.
Violent Purple: I can live with Eyes of the Demon, Mister Cross. Edward? I like Edward. You know that Edward’s root words mean to guard and fortune? We’ll have to put that name to the test.
Eddie’s clearly calculating what to say next. He rubs his chin and points at her, smiling, but not because he is betraying his happiness, but because he seems to have figured out what to tell her.
Eddie Cross: You need to do a little more research to find out what my name actually means… But for now, you’re right, it seems like we are going to “intentionally” meet again, doesn’t it?
At that moment, a commotion draws their attention. Crash Jackson bursts into the scene accompanied with a cacophony of rattling cans and storage boxes.
Crash: Hey guy, I was just over there and couldn’t help but notice you two were talking kinda close and thought like maybe you needed a hand?
He motions to Violent Purple. Purple’s lip curls slightly and she holds her hands up, taking another step away from Eddie.
Crash: This one, she is dangerous! And I like danger.
Eddie looks at VP then at Crash then back and forth one more time.
Eddie Cross: Were you spying on us, bruh?
Crash looks incredulous.
Crash: Bro! Is it spying when you listen to what people are talking about from over there? C’mon, broski.
EC narrows his eyes and raises a brow.
Eddie Cross: Bruh.
Eddie Cross: Bruhsidon!
Eddie Cross: BARACK BRUHBAMA!?
Crash: Bilbro Baggins…
Eddie Cross: Wilford Bruhmley…
Eddie Cross: Bruh.
Violent Purple looks at both men as they bro-joust before shaking her head dismissively. She cast one sharp look at Eddie before turning to look Crash directly in the eyes.
Violent Purple: We’ll just see who we run into first next week I suppose. Bye for now..Brobies.
She turns and moves off leaving both men with their own thoughts. Crash watches her, nearly hypnotized as she walks away. Biting his lower lip with four million carnal thoughts running through his foggy mind, Crash turns back to EC after she is out of eyesight.
Crash: Dibs, dude. Dibs.
Crash nods slowly to confirm, in fact, he’s calling dibs on a lady who whooped his ass before.
Crash: Pretty sure she’s into me anyway so…
Eddie looks down the hall thoughtfully.
Eddie Cross: Bruh, I think she’s into both of us, but not in the way you’re thinking.
Crash holds his flat hand up with a neck swerve in complete objection. Eddie sighs and looks at Crash.
Eddie Cross: I mean that the way the story my grams tells goes, the demons in Samoa were known for taking offerings of whatever they want, and they didn’t always give in return. I think she isn’t done taking from us, and that makes me worried for Max.
Crash cocks his head and is now the one raising an eyebrow. This is a pretty common sign of uncertainty. He offers EC a shrug and grin.
Crash: Well… this tale sounds daunting and also very erotic. Whaddaya say we continue this chat over a bucket of the finest chicken around?
He motions his thumb toward catering.
Crash: I think the Colonel’s got a bucket waiting for us.
EC changes his demeanor, smiles, and nods appreciating the offer.
Eddie Cross: Sure, lead the way.
As they make their way down the hall chatting with one another, the scene turns to the next match of the evening.
MAX KAEL? VS. HAYES HANLON
Nick Stuart: Fans, we have once again been joined by Ivan Stanislav here at ringside.
Richard Parker: Well given his history with Hayes Hanlon, I’m not surprised. Just do me a favor, Nick, and let me know if I might get trampled by an angry bear if things spill out this way.
Vince Howard: The following contest is scheduled for one fall!
Don’t do it.
C’mon, crowd. Don’t be those people.
Vince Howard: Introducing first…
Oh, thank god. We totally just dodged a beating on that one.
Vince Howard: From Arkham, Massachusetts he weighs in tonight at two-hundred and twenty pounds… MAAAAAX KAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAELLLL????????
The lights slowly faded in the arena as an ominous piano trilling rose over the P.A.
“I’ve just closed my eyes again.. Climbed aboard the Dream Weaver Train..”
Gary Wright’s voice crept 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.
As Gary Wright continued to serenade the crowd Max swaggered toward the ring with a massive smile stretched across his face. While the fans booed him, the music and the catchy bass line muffled their discontentment. For his part Max doesn’t appear to pay them any attention as he strutted up to the ring steps.
Kael climbed up the ring steps before reaching the apron where he swiftly wiped off his feet. Stepping between middle and top rope Max ran in a circle inside the right until the timing of Wright’s famous song until another repeat of the stanza rolled around..
“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 pulled his arms into a flex. As he did so he bared 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 slunk toward his corner apparently saddened his music was no longer playing.
Vince Howard: And his opponent…
Distorted guitar heralds a black hole emerging on the PRIME*View, dangerously close to the screen; hanging in the void among planets and nebulas.
Sirens accompany as the screen shakes, pulling us in violently, until the lyrics scream throughout the PA system.
“WHEN MY BACK’S TO THE WAAALLLL!!!”
And huge, white block letters fill the screen:
The speakers and amplifiers hold on for dear life as “Daggers” by We Came as Romans absolutely bludgeon the eardrums. And speaking of explosions, those planets and stars on the PRIME*View do just that, bursting into blinding eruptions of violent light. It carries into the arena, rumbling flashbulbs explode in various points throughout the building; in the ceiling, in the stands, one after another.
And then, from the ramp, The Event Horizon. He marches forward, those dark eyes focused, ‘stache on point. The eruption of lights and noise makes the building feel like a mosh pit. If the fans are booing, you’d never know.
Vince Howard: FROM WEST LINN, OREGON! STANDING SIX FEET, THREE INCHES AND WEIGHING IN AT TWO-HUNDRED AND SIXTY FIVE POUNDS!!
Hayes climbs the apron, steps through the ropes, and b-lines for the turnbuckle.
Vince Howard: The Event Horizoonnnnnnn…HAAAAAYESSSS!! HAAANNNLLOOOONNNNN!!!
Up one rope, then the second, chest and jaw jutting out, and a thumb across his neck.
“DRAW! THE! DAGGER!
CUT OUT THE PAIN! TO FIND THE POWER!”
He hops down, making way to the next post to repeat the process one more time.
“DRAW! THE! DAGGER!
CUT OUT THE PAIN!”
He remains on the ropes, and in timing with the song, beats his chest four times while roaring out the crescendo.
The Comeback Kid stays for a moment, eyes scanning the arena, allowing the music to reach its breakdown. He hops to the mat and takes his place in his corner, ready to go.
Richard Parker: Lotta bodies out here at ringside, Nick.
Nick Stuart: There definitely does seem to be some heightened interest in this match, Richard. But I guess you could say that’s true for everyone competing in this tournament.
The two men circle, feeling each other out. When it looks like both are about to meet for a collar and elbow tie-up, Kael? ducks under Hanlon’s grip and slides past him, delivering a quick jab to the abdomen on his way. Hayes turns and sees Max grinning with his palms up. Another attempted lock-up, and another dodge by Kael?. This time he rolls under Hanlon’s arms, rises, turns on a dime and delivers a kick to the bigger man’s thigh.
Nick Stuart: Smart move by Max Kael to stay out of Hanlon’s reach.
Richard Parker: Of course, the man wasn’t born yesterday you know.
Nick Stuart: Never said he…
Richard Parker: He was born in June.
Nick Stuart: …
Richard Parker: What?
Hayes, clearly frustrated, does not try for a third lock-up. Instead he charges across the ring and blindsides Max, scooping him up and driving him back into the corner. A hard forearm connects, and then Hanlon unloads with a series of hard chops to the chest.
Hayes puts one hand on Max’s chest, and with the other he gestures to the crowd to quiet down. Some listen, not out of respect for the Glueminati’s newest member, but because they know what’s about to happen next.
Hanlon’s chop cuts through the silence, the force of it sends Kael? reeling. Max stumbles out of the corner, his chest a vibrant red, before dropping to one knee in the middle of the ring.
Nick Stuart: Hanlon exerting his will here in the early going.
Richard Parker: Not sure I feel about him beating up a toddler like this.
Nick Stuart: What the hell are you talking about?
Richard Parker: He’s only four months old, Nick! This is child abuse!
As Max regains his bearings, Hayes is busy jogging in the corner. His legs pump faster, and he begins windmilling both of his arms to get loose, before bolting across the ring. Max turns just in time to be turned inside out with a running lariat. Hayes’ momentum takes him through the move and into the opposite corner. He crashes in chest-first and has to hold on to the top rope to prevent himself from falling to the mat himself.
Richard Parker: That’s it, I’m calling DCF.
The Event Horizon steadies himself, and then jubilantly starts shaking the top rope before pounding one fist on his chest. He looks to the crowd, points towards Max, and then makes the universal gesture for “I’m gonna bodyslam this dude.”
Richard Parker: You know, I think he’s gonna try to bodyslam that dude.
He’s met with jeers.
Max rises to his feet looking a little woozy from the big lariat, and is immediately scooped up by Hanlon and slammed.
Richard Parker: Guess I was right again, Nick!
Hayes pulls Max up and then slams him again. On the third slam, U.N. Couth starts waving her arms outside the ring. On the fourth, Max tries to call a time-out. He is not successful. The fifth involves an impassioned plea to reason that is not heeded.
Nick Stuart: Scoop slam party! Shades of last year’s Colossus!
Richard Parker: Mmm. Hold on a minute, I’m just going to close my eyes and remember what it was like watching Jiles bounce around.
Nick Stuart: Richard, are you okay over th…
Richard Parker: I SAID I NEED A MINUTE!
Hanlon makes the cover, but just as Timo gets down to make the count he has to pop back up to his feet to try and shoo Violent Purple down from the ring apron.
Hayes begrudgingly stands up, and tries to bring Max with him, but Kael? is able to use the distraction to gouge at Hanlon’s eyes.
Nick Stuart: The numbers game is starting to pay off. Max Kael? using everything he has to his advantage tonight.
Richard Parker: Real talk, I wonder where the rest of Team Glue is hanging out. Except FLAMBERGE. I’m just going to assume he found a nice hot rock and an endless supply of leafy greens.
With Timo still occupied, Max follows up his eyeball assault with a strike to a different set of balls. Legit, it’s just a war on orbs in that ring right now.
The crowd reacts as one might expect, because professional wrestling skews heavily male in the demographic, and it doesn’t matter if someone is a good guy or not, they all understand what it’s like to get punched in the bing-bing.
One person seems to be enjoying what just happened a great deal.
Ivan Stanislav: DYAAHAAHAA!!!!
Yeah, it’s loud enough that the arena mics pick it up.
That gets Timo’s attention, and he turns away from the distraction. But Max is crafty. He quickly scoops up Hayes in a double leg pickup, and hits an inverted atomic drop to cover for his cheating. Because it’s not cool to punch a guy in the pills, but it’s totally okay if he falls dick-first on your knee.
Wrestling, am I right?
Nick Stuart: Smart move to cover for his cheating there by Max Kael?
Richard Parker: Genius level intelligence for someone so young.
Nick Stuart: …
Richard Parker: Really, they should get him enrolled in the gifted program at school.
Hayes’ body goes completely rigid. He leans forward slightly with his arms out in front of him at an angle. HIs legs seem locked at the knees, and then they bend outwards. He’s on his tiptoes. It looks like a zombie taking its first baby steps on a balance beam.
Rick Rude would be proud.
Nick Stuart: Max Kael with a chop block taking the Event Horizon down.
Richard Parker: It’s okay, you don’t need your knees to offer mustache rides.
Nick Stuart: Richard.
Richard Parker: Or do you? I don’t know how those work.
The force of the move drives Hanlon to the ground, and he lays with his upper body draped over the second rope while he reaches for his knee. Kael? steps back, playing the part of a good sportsman to give Hayes some time to recover. This is when U.N. Couth steps up onto the ring apron, which also draws the attention of Timo Bolamba. With the distraction now firmly in place, Violent Purple moves over to where Hayes is recuperating and starts pulling down on his neck, effectively choking him against the ropes.
The crowd has no idea how to respond to this. Normally they would boo, but that was for the old Hanlon. The pre-Glue Hanlon. Now there’s just indistinct noise.
Richard Parker: No! Not his throat. I’m pretty sure he needs that for mustache rides unless everything I just googled is a lie.
Nick Stuart: I can’t with you right now. I genuinely can not.
Kael? makes his way over to the ropes just as Purple breaks her hold. With Hanlon on the mat gasping for air, Max drapes Hayes’ leg over the bottom rope and then begins stomping the inside of his knee. Referee Bolamba, who is for sure earning his paycheck during this match, is forced to admonish Kael? for illegal use of the ropes. Max backs off, which allows Violet Purple to reach into the ring, grab Hanlon by the ankle, and then snap his leg down against the corner of the ring apron.
A group of fans close to ringside begin a “You deserve it” chant, but it doesn’t get much traction with the rest of the audience.
We get a brief picture-in-picture shot. Backstage, Jared Sykes is watching this match unfold on a monitor. In case you’re wondering, he’s staring at it head-on like a normal person would watch television.
From his seat at ringside, Ivan Stanislav seems to be relishing in Hanlon’s current predicament.
Nick Stuart: The right knee of Hayes Hanlon now has a great big target on it.
Richard Parker: That’s not true, Nick. If there was a Target on it then Hayes wouldn’t be able to move. Also that’s like an entire store, and for that to be on top of someone means there was a horrible accident.
Nick Stuart: I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that.
Richard Parker: Hey, you’re the one talking about imploding department stores with people inside them. Also do they have Targets here, or are we in Walmart country?
Hayes hobbles up on one leg, but is taken right back to the mat by a Max Kael? slingblade. He makes a quick cover and hooks the leg that’s been targeted so far.
Outside the ring, Ivan leans forward in his chair.
Nick Stuart: And Hayes Hanlon was able to roll one of his shoulders up off the mat!
Both men are up on their feet again, but Hayes looks to be stepping lightly on his right foot. Kael? charges in, but Hayes is able to scoop him up in a fireman’s carry. Before anything can come of it…
Nick Stuart: Did you see that knee just buckle? It looks like Max Kael?’s strategy is paying off!
Kael? slides right off of Hanlon’s shoulders and lands on his feet behind him.
Richard Parker: Maybe Hayes can ice it later while he’s…
Nick Stuart: If the words “mustache ride” come out of your mouth again, so help me, Richard.
Hayes tries to get some sure footing underneath him, but he doesn’t get long before a roaring elbow connects with the back of his head. Hayes lurches forward from the blow, then stands straight up, turns.
Richard Parker: Timberrrrrrr!
And falls, stiff as a board, face-first onto the canvas.
Nick Stuart: Kael? with another cover!
Nick Stuart: Could this be the one?!
Once more Hanlon is able to roll up a shoulder, breaking the count.
Kael? is to his feet first, and he once again starts stomping at the right knee of Hayes Hanlon. Shot after shot connects, and then he draws the former champion up to his feet. He creates a little distance and builds up some speed, perhaps looking for another knockout shot.
Nick Stuart: Hanlon with the counter!
A huge spinebuster takes Max Kael? up into the air, and then down hard onto the canvas.
Nick Stuart: But that move looks like it took its toll on Hanlon as well. He’s really favoring that right knee.
Richard Parker: Like I said. A little ice. A little elevation. Maybe some rest, and…
Nick Stuart: Richard, no!
Richard Parker: I wasn’t going to say anything!
Nick Stuart: Oh, what the hell is she doing now?
The woman in question is U.N. Couth, who is once again standing on the ring apron and drawing Timo’s attention away from the match. With Timo occupied, Max reaches into his tights and retrieves a small bag of powder. He fumbles with it for a moment, the sweat from the match making it difficult to open.
And then it’s swatted out of his hands. Kael? stumbles back. Violent Purple uses this opportunity to get onto the ring apron opposite where Couth is busy distracting Timo.
Nick Stuart: Hayes just knocked it away, and now Hanlon’s got a handful of… something.
Richard Parker: Pocket glue!
Nick Stuart: Never say those words in that order ever again.
The bag is torn open, and a handful of what looks like sand is thrown square in the face of Max Kael?. Once again, the crowd isn’t quite sure how to react.
Kael? staggers back as he wipes at his eyes, bumping into Purple. She loses her balance and hops down to the arena floor, and a blinded Kael? turns into the waiting arms of Hayes Hanlon.
Nick Stuart: The Epoch!
The chokebomb connects in the center of the ring. Between the sudden vibration in the ring and the shout from Hayes Hanlon, Timo turns away from Couth to see the cover.
Hanlon makes sure to hide the now-empty bag near his body.
U.N. Couth tries to protest, but it falls on deaf ears.
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: The winner of this match, and advancing in the Almasy Memorial Tournament… HAYES HAAAAAAAAAAAANLOOOOOOON!!!
Nick Stuart: Hayes Hanlon hands Max Kael? his first loss in PRIME, and will move on to the next round!
We then cut to commercial.
COMMERCIAL: STILL TO COME
THE TITLE’S NEW TITLE
Check the PREVIOUSLY RECORDED logo in the top right.
Now check the environs: dark wood, low sensual lighting, red crushed velvet on several visible surfaces. Very “the owners probably used to have shitty corporate jobs, then they poured all their money into this insanely high end cocktail bar” vibe.
“Oh, hey. I didn’t see you there.”
Pretending to be surprised at the camera is Chandler Tsonda in a black turtleneck that looks absolutely god mode soft. Lush like you read about. Thread count astronomical.
The Model Citizen leans back in a bar booth and peers right at the camera.
Chandler Tsonda: I’m so glad you stopped by the Model Citiz-Inn. This (gestures to the bar) is the type of place where a mature, seasoned veteran of 20+ years addresses a rabid PRIMEate faithful.
Chandler Tsonda: Technically, by the time you see this, I’ll be in full technology blackout ahead of my Almasy Round 1 match. Present Chandler, it’s your pal, Past Chandler, and I know you’re going to do great tonight. Kick that very rude harpy in the shins for me, you dirty dog.
An unseen hand places one of the crisper-looking old fashioneds of the 21st century on the deep walnut table next to Tsonda.
Chandler Tsonda: But first, join me in raising a glass of Kentucky’s finest to the end of the Gamble Championship, and the beginning of a new era.
The Model Citizen takes a very small sip of the drink in front of him. A champion must show restraint. In spite of the minimal sip, he still makes a face at the whiskey’s kick. He’s been the heavyweight champion of the world, but this man is undoubtedly a lightweight at any bar in America.
Chandler Tsonda: I said last ReV that the time wasn’t right, to unveil the new face of the Alias Title. The division is getting new duds, a fresh coat of paint, a little de-lousing powder for, ya know, Onytay Amblegay.
Just as the whiskey was brought in by an unseen hand, a very obviously belt-sized object is placed on the table in front of Tsonda. It is covered by a piece of crushed red velvet because Tsonda is many things, but “off-theme” is never one of them.
Chandler Tsonda: And I also said last ReV that the belt reveal would be worth the wait. I can say, without a qualm or a hesitation, that I am certainly using more of Dear Leader Troy’s production budget than I could’ve dreamed of two weeks ago. (points to glass) Shit, this is Pappy van Winkle, and there’s absolutely NO reason my drink should be anything but well liquor considering we’re in a visual medium here. But dammit, I know that Troy wants the best for us, and for PRIME, so we’ve spared no expense.
The million-dollar grin to punctuate this future headache for PRIME’s accounts payable department.
Chandler Tsonda: And speaking of the best, that’s what our new Alias belt is going to represent, babes. No, I’m not entering the dick-measuring contest between the two Glueys and our esteemed Bond villain Universal champion about “which belt is the real top prize.” Because the real top prize is that I wake up and not only am I not any of those three dorks, but bonus: I’m Chandler Goddamn Tsonda, and I’m your Alias champion.
Chandler Tsonda: Or should I say…
The Model Citizen reaches for the cloth on top of the belt. He offers a showman’s hesitation, and then pulls back the red velvet to reveal…
…a belt with the number 0 on it, among other things. It’s a classy-looking golden affair, and you can almost see the new belt smell. It shines in the low light of the Model Citiz-Inn.
Chandler Tsonda: The Numbers Don’t Lie Title. If you’re feeling informal, the NDL.
The camera goes for a close-up, showing some of the smaller flourishes, and spotlighting the aforementioned NDLT.
Chandler Tsonda: You might be asking why. Why not something more reflective of my personality? The Gold Narcissus for being the world’s greatest and most self-interested grappler? A belt to go around the waist of PRIME’s all-time best cruiserweight to celebrate the high flyers and short kings? Or maybe a trophy and title that bears the name “Tony Gamble thinks mild is too spicy” just because I can.
The camera cuts back to the satisfied Model Citizen.
Chandler Tsonda: But if there’s one thing that I know, deep down in the ol’ marrow, that makes me feel alive when I’m in the ring, it’s every time I get to prove that I am pound-for-pound, minute-for-minute the best damn wrestler on this floating blue marble.
The Sultan of Style taps the zero in the middle of the belt.
Chandler Tsonda: But the beauty of the NDL is that you don’t gotta take my word for it. See, this zero symbolizes how many title defenses I’ve made. Best believe this thing’s getting re-plated, and that number is going up, each time I can make a defense. If I’ve learned anything about this era of PRIME, title defenses are like Bigfoot sightings. But I’ll put my whole self into putting a big number on this baby.
He takes a sip of the exceedingly expensive old fashioned.
Chandler Tsonda: That’s the spirit of the belt. Be great, or get fucked. And wrestle every minute like it’s your last. Because, well, sometimes it is.
The Viet Viper cocks his head to the side.
Chandler Tsonda: Every time this belt is defended, a match isn’t defined as one fall, but for a set amount of time on the clock. Might be five minutes, might be fifty. PRIMEates at home and in the arena will find out the match length at exactly the same time that I do, and my opponent does. It’ll make for some of the best live TV in pro wrestling. C’mon, I gotta prove to Troy that I’m pure uncut rating spike, right?
The grin. You know the one.
Chandler Tsonda: So one of my esteemed colleagues and me might open ReV, only to find out that we’ve got a thirty minute Iron Man match on our hands. Or we might learn at twenty to midnight that we’ve got six minutes to try and find just a single pinfall before the clock runs. Luck of the draw. But here’s what you will know ahead of time: that you better pray to your gods. Pound for pound, minute for minute, I’m still betting the house, and this pretty little cumberbund, there’s nobody better than me. And if I’m wrong, you get to call this title yours and do your own HGTV job on it.
And now, the Numbers Don’t Lie champion puts two manicured hands on the belt, and hoists it onto the shoulder of that absolute supernova of a turtleneck.
Chandler Tsonda: We’re gonna have us some good ol’ fashioned scrambles for (taps belt) this. Let’s beat the shit out of each other and see who’s got the juice. As long as I’ve got it, the law of the land is…
A glance down at the belt, and then back straight to camera.
Chandler Tsonda: People lie. Numbers don’t.
Wink. Sip. And scene.
MAKE PLEASANT MORE PLEASANT
We go from Tsonda to a call center where volunteers are fielding phone calls rapidly in the background. Stu Weiler stands with Rocky, who appears in full ring garb, in front of them.
Stu Weiler: Hello. I am, once again, asking you for your financial support.
Rocky de Leon: Skree!
Stu Weiler: That’s right, Rocky. We are asking for your help for a noble cause. We and all these volunteers are here tonight to raise money to help solve a major problem in the world of PRIME – Arthur Pleasant’s generally shitty attitude.
Rocky de Leon: Skree!
Stu Weiler: That’s right, Rocky. For only $5 a month, you, dear viewer, can help Make Pleasant More Pleasant.
As Stu is talking, stage hands clip cables to Rocky’s waist. Rocky takes to the air, flying above the phone wranglers, SKREEing words of encouragement.
Sarah McLauchlin’s “In the Arms of the Angels” begins playing. Camera slowly zooms in on Stu’s face. As he speaks, a slideshow plays in a picture-in-picture square in the corner of the screen, rotating through images of artist renderings of a baby with sharp teeth and red eyes, that baby in cartoon form stealing from an old woman, and an empty field. At the bottom of the screen, small fast-moving print reads:
Stu Weiler: Arthur Pleasant was born with no soul, no conscience, and no goats. The ASPCA has made it very clear we are not to provide him with goats, and we’re fairly certain Satan has an ownership stake on any potential soul Pleasant might obtain. However, we believe with your help that Arthur could develop both empathy and a conscience.
Stu walks to stage right and the camera follows. Past the phone bank, a conversation set reminiscent of Between Two Ferns contains a pair of easy chairs and a coffee table. The occupant of the chair opposite Stu rests in a pinstriped suit. His elbows rest on the chair arms with his fingers tenting in front of his sternum. Gray whisps of hair are swept out of his face as his rimless glasses reflect the studio light. Stu would guess that when standing at full height, his guest may be approximately 6’3” and weigh 170 pounds sopping wet.
Stu Weiler: Joining us in the studio now to help explain how your dollars can help improve the lives of all the wrestlers and staff forced to interact with Arthur is Dr. Haitzurwahlet. Thanks for joining us, Doctor.
Dr. Haitzurwahlet: My pleasure, Stu.
The good Doctor inclines his head ever so slightly.
Stu Weiler: Doctor, I understand you’ve been observing Arthur Pleasant for some time now.
Stu gestures at a pot of coffee and cups on the table. Dr. H near-imperceptibly shakes his head and gently waves away the coffee with his left hand before returning it to its tented position.
Dr. Haitzurwahlet: Yes, yes indeed. I have been monitoring his activities with a great deal of interest since his first ReVival appearance.
A cable audibly snaps, and Rocky’s body swings back and forth in and out of frame behind the chairs. He SKREEs in a doppler pattern. Stu and Dr. Haitzurwahlet momentarily observe his parabolic flight before turning back to the camera.
Stu Weiler: Is it your opinion that Mr. Pleasant would benefit from some form of therapy or other mental health consultation?
Dr. Haitzurwahlet: Oh, undeniably so. I would generally recommend he begin with an aggressive course of therapy working with a professional no less than three times a week for at least an hour. If he chose to be even more proactive, I would suggest that an inpatient treatment facility might be quite beneficial.
A bony finger slides up the avian nose of Dr. Haitzurwahlet to push his glasses back to their optimal position before Rocky’s stray wing smacks the good Doctor on his downswing, flinging the glasses across the studio floor. Doctor H appears unphased.
Stu Weiler: Our producers have told me you have a diagnosis for Mr. Pleasant. Is that correct?
Stu sips at his coffee.
Dr. Haitzurwahlet: Yes, quite. It is, of course, merely a hypothetical as I have not had the opportunity to directly examine Mr. Pleasant, but I believe the foundation on which I base my hypothesis is quite sound given the volume of his public, er… appearances.
Stu Weiler: And what exactly is that diagnosis?
Dr. Haitzurwahlet: He is Fucking Crazy.
Rocky de Leon: SKREE!
Rocky, apparently free from his steel cable prison, pops his head in from off camera and nods vigorously in agreement. There appears to be remnants of vanilla cake and icing on his head.
Stu Weiler: I… you know, somehow I thought it would be a bit more official.
Dr. Haitzurwahlet: Oh, that is quite official. Fucking Crazy was added to the DSIM in early 2023.
Stu Weiler: I see. I presume that treating… erm… Fucking Crazy… is rather costly?
Dr. Haitzurwahlet: Yes, yes indeed. It can, quite frankly, be among the most expensive of psychiatric undertakings. I would estimate that somewhere in the realm of a quarter million dollars or more will be necessary to provide adequate treatment for Mr. Pleasant in his first year.
Stu Weiler: Amazing. Thank you Doctor. There you have it, folks. Arthur Pleasant is officially diagnosed Crazy.
(from off stage) Rocky de Leon: SKREE.
Stu Weiler: *sigh* yes, thank you Rocky, my apologies – Fucking Crazy.
(from off stage, but quieter) Rocky de Leon: Skree.
Stu Weiler: I agree, accuracy is important. As you all know, Rocky takes seriously the mental and physical well being of, well, everyone. And that includes Arthur Pleasant. After witnessing his psychosis first hand when Arthur attempted to assault Rocky outside the ring, Rocky knew we had to band together to help what may be the worst case of Fucking Crazy the world has ever seen.
A band starts to play in the background. The lead singer is a pale woman with red hair that doesn’t look quite right. Almost out of view of the camera on the left is a busted table with a smashed birthday cake, paper plates, and napkins on the floor. A banner straggled across the floor reads, “Happy Retirement, Fred.”
Stu Weiler: We’re going to take a little break, but please enjoy the upcoming cover of “Cherry Lips” by the Garbage tribute band “Unrecyclable Refuse,” led by their brilliant singer Probly Womandaughter. When we return, we’ll be speaking with an orthodontist and prosthodontist to discuss the costs associated with repair of Arthur’s absolutely hideous teeth.
Camera fades to the backstage area of the YUM! Center.
LOOK NO FURTHER
The show comes back to life inside the famed eGG Den. There, Bobby Dean and Cancer Jiles are conversing about the goings on about ReVival and Robert’s up and coming matchup against Brandon Crumblood.
Bobby is already profusely sweating in his gear and robe, and Jiles of course looks like he normally does.
Bobby Dean: I can’t believe that guy called you a cromb earlier. I didn’t know what to do.
Cancer Jiles: Fucking newbies and their dreams. Good thing for me, I do.
The COOLYMPIAN fashions a paper airplane out of the golden ticket he plucked from thin air during a prior segment, and sends it soaring towards the trash can.
It is worth noting that the newest Bandit, Coral Avalon, is nowhere to be seen.
Cancer Jiles: But that can wait till next week. Tonight, it’s all about YOU, and knocking Crumblood out of the tournament for the Bandits.
The Honaleean grits his teeth like he was gnawing on a chicken bone.
Cancer Jiles: Remember to work the arm, and if you get a chance to stuff him you stuff him. No hesitation. Also, it’s not Timo out there so we won’t have to worry about getting screwed over by the refs.
Bobby Dean: Got it. Eat the arm. Stuff him and don’t look back.
The Maestro nods, Bob continues.
Bobby Dean: Say, you’ve lost to him twice before, you don’t think he’s still upset about losing to Ivan, do you? It’s been a month now, he should be calmed down, right?
Although Bob’s question is sincere, King COOL doesn’t view it that way.
Cancer Jiles: I’m sure he’s calmer than I am.
Suddenly, an authoritative knock is heard rapping on the door which causes both Bandits to freeze.
Lindsay Troy: I know you’re in there, Pizmo; the Dipshit Alert went off on my watch a half-hour ago. Open the door so I can fire you with some dignity.
The two Bandits snap their fingers in disgust. Luckily for them, Lady Troy’s next knock jars the door open, and neither of them have to stand up to open it for her.
Such a gentlemanly door.
Lindsay Troy: So where is he? Don’t say who. Don’t show me a piece of cardboard. Don’t pull out an old action figure from the ReVolution era or tSC. Produce Coral Avalon, right now, or get out. If you hurry, you can still catch Fall Fest at the Lincoln Park Zoo and share some sad pizza with Leecifer.
The Beaute from Honalee shrivels behind his multiple chins.
Cancer Jiles: Your hair looks great tonight, Mom. So good in fact, that if ever there were a night to get fired, well it would be tonight.
The Queen of the Ring sharpens her index finger to jab it firmly into Jiles’ chest. Right before it connects, and the hammer meets gavel…
Cancer Jiles: Wouldn’t you agree, Coral?
There is no response.
There is no need for one.
Lady Troy, Queen of PRIME, and the shell shocked expression on her face tell all that needs to be told.
Cancer Jiles: I know. Doesn’t our boy look great in Electric Blue?
Cut to commercial.
COMMERCIAL: THE BELMONT CLASSIC
A slow-motion video of a packed arena. While the seats are filled with screaming fans, the ring sits empty and the spotlights are dark.
But not for long.
“This is where the seeds of greatness are planted.”
More slow-motion action. We see younger versions of our favorite superstars. Jared Sykes. Clay Bird. Ian Nackedy. Colt Smith.
“This is where miracles are commonplace.”
Miranda DC. Powerslam Anubis. Justicio IV. Ned Reform.
“This is where careers are forged.”
Leroy Scrumptious. Samson Dynamite. The Jacks of All Trades. Kevin Condor.
“This is where trails are blazed.”
Paxton Ray. FLAMBERGE. Eddie Cross. Garry Bolamba. Jennifer Colton.
“This is where legends are born.”
Lindsay Troy. Brandon Youngblood. Coral Avalon.
The Belmont Classic
St. Louis, MO
Are you ready to rock?
CORAL AVALON 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: This Almasy Invitational First Round Match is set for one fall and has no time limit. Introducing first… from Under The Midnight Sun… weighing in at 225 lbs… he is PRIME’s WORST NIGHTMARE… ARTHURRRRRRR… PLLLEEEAAASAAAAAAAAAAAAANT!!!
Nick Stuart: This seems like the perfect time of year for this man.
Richard Parker: A Dracula if ever there was one.
Nick Stuart: As much as we talk about teeth with Arthur Pleasant, it’s becoming more and more clear that the man poises a unique threat. I believe some might have written off Pleasant, thinking some early failure might doom him to quickly flaming out and exiting. But he’s persevered, notching tough wins, making life difficult for those inside the ring…and outside of it…as brutal as they come.
Darkness hits the KFC Yum! Center. Static hits the Crumbotron before something cold and ominous fills its view. A sound like a cold wind cuts through the static as we see a scene of a large block of ice being towed down a lonely track.
Fans see something large and ominous coming from behind the curtains in the darkness, illuminated only by a single spotlight as it rolls out on the stage. Fans do not see that it’s being pushed out specifically by none other than Lunchbox Larry. Boos start to emanate from the crowd as they see the man walking alongside the box of ice and recognize him for the T-shades attached to a crumb that he is.
Richard Parker: Oh god, what’s he doing out here?
The “he” being Cancer Jiles, of course.
Dressed in his baby blue as usual, Jiles’ presence indicates that the eGG Bandits’ paterfaeGGlias is out in force for the newest recruit. The fans’ boos turn to confusion when the opening notes of Monster Siren’s “Real Me” starts up, the entrance music of Arthur Pleasant’s opponent tonight.
The spotlight shines down on the big block of ice as it starts to crack and crumble. Nevermind that the “ice” looks obviously fake. We just froze this man, don’t question it. When the guitars of the song hit, the block crumbles completely. Standing in the center of the block’s ruins, in full ring gear, is a man who hasn’t been seen by anyone in almost a month.
Where in the world was Coral Avalon?
Who cares! He’s in electric blue now!
Welcome to the eGG Bandits, buddy!
Nick Stuart: We haven’t seen Coral Avalon since he was carried away by the Bandits at UltraViolence, and now he’s here with Jiles! Has he really thrown his lot in with the Bandits!?
Richard Parker: I have never hated anything more in my life than what I’m witnessing right now, and I saw a man get crippled in that ring just over a year ago.
Nick Stuart: Priorities as straight as usual.
Avalon carefully steps over the icy rubble that once contained him, and starts to make his way down to the ring. Behind him, Cancer Jiles is teasing a full-on Fargo Strut, but with middle fingers out.
Vince Howard: His opponent… residing in Seattle, Washington… weighing in at two-hundred and twenty-four pounds… REPRESENTING… THE EGG BANDITS!? What? I mean… COOOOOOOORAAAALLLLLL! AVALOOOOOOOOONNNNNN!!!
Avalon hops up onto the ring apron and steps into the ring, while Jiles is his usual self in one corner and paying little attention to the match Coral’s about to wrestle. In fact, he has a special message for Ivan Stanislav at ringside, in the form of… well, more middle fingers!
Nick Stuart: Another round one match in the Almasy, and another interesting matchup most wouldn’t think of–
Richard Parker: Definite styles clash here.
Nick Stuart: Avalon is the consummate wrestler, skilled in near all styles in the sport. And given his movements on that entrance…it appears he’s not favoring his ribs or–
Richard Parker: The ice was fake, Nick. It was fake. You don’t get frozen and miraculously heal.
Jiles, for his part, is always attuned to the derision of one ‘Dick’ Parker. And as the two commentators attempt to focus on the match, the Fargo Strutting Golden Ticket holder and former Universal Champion is all double birds, extra crispy, no holding the MSG because he wants ‘Dickard’ to be starving for more five minutes from now.
Richard Parker: This is stupid. ALL OF THIS IS STUPID.
The confusion from the fans for Avalon is intriguing, especially with the backdrop of Banditry, Ivan Stanislav, and 4Chan’s favorite wrestler, Arthur Pleasant. The Crownless King gives his shoulders a few warm up slaps, bouncing on the soles of his boots, his eyes trained on Pleasant should The Nightmare try to take advantage. All Pleasant does, though, is smile, flashing his teeth.
Richard Parker: IF IT WORKED THAT WAY THEN WHY DIDN’T THE ICE AGE CURE THE DINOSAURS?! IT KILLED THEM! THEEEEEEEY DIED IN THE ICE! ICE KILLS YOU! THIS IS SO STUPID.
Nick Stuart: Richard…I feel like you’re taking things a little too literally here.
Richard Parker: I can’t stand him, Nick. I…I can’t. I feel like Jiles is giving me second hand IBS.
Turnbull calls for the bell, and we are officially underway.
The match started, both Avalon and Pleasant start drawing closer to each other, limber in their movements, Arthur comfortable in his muay thai stance, Coral slightly crouched in freestyle wrestling. Fingers moving wildly, Avalon makes the aggressive first move, shooting to a knee, looking to pick at Pleasant’s leg, but PRIME’S Worst Nightmare darts out of range, throwing a space checking front kick in Coral’s direction. The Crownless King barely avoids the strike, but grabs hold of the leg, extending Pleasant out, Arthur hopping, all before Coral wedges his heel behind his opponent’s free leg, pushing him over in a trip.
Avalon follows him downward, gripping heavy with a side headlock. Pleasant, for his part, pushes up off the canvas quickly, standing the pair back up, shooting a fist into the liver of his opponent, causing Coral to wince but then tighten his grip. Arthur grits his teeth, throwing another shot to his opponent’s liver, all before forcing Avalon upward and driving him back first with a belly to back suplex. Finally breaking the hold, the pair scramble to their feet, Avalon second, and the time doesn’t help with Pleasant hitting a mid kick, following it up with an authoritative muay thai elbow.
Nick Stuart: The style difference showing out already.
The blow staggers Avalon, who is quickly smothered by Pleasant, grabbing hold of Coral in the clinch, firing off a knee to the ribcage. The blow is enough to lift Avalon off his feet, and with a biel, he is tossed like a sack of trash to the canvas. In the past few months, the pinpoint accuracy of the knee strike Pleasant connected with would be enough to put Coral in the danger zone. Take his wind from him. Compromise him. But, to the surprise of The Crownless King, he’s surprised with how well he was able to take the blow.
Jiles mouths to him ‘See, told you so.’
Nick Stuart: And PLEASANT throwing a heavy kick to the downed Avalon.
Richard Parker: Thigh kicks. Heavy. Get the muscles knotting up. Enough of those blows compromises the legs, and for Avalon, with how much he pivots and uses Rhongomyniad, and needing to be able to move out of the striking range–
Nick Stuart: OH Pleasant jumping up trying to hit a stomp and Coral JUST avoids.
Richard Parker: Lucky for him, looks like Arthur was looking to stomp his jaw to paste.
The reverberation of the ring is quite alarming. Pleasant isn’t someone known for his subtlety in the ring, but the sheer snap in his movements, the heaviness in which he is coming with blows, even if they miss, is quite alarming. Extremely threatening. Avalon, for his part, pushes up to his feet, and, after absorbing another mid kick, seems ready to eat another, which Arthur is more than willing to feed him, save the arm drag take over he manages to get.
Nick Stuart: And Avalon, putting some torque on the elbow here.
Pleasant tries to snatch his arm away, the eyes of Ivan Stanislav fierce with intent, as though his very look should will Arthur to a better position. Avalon continues trying to extend the elbow, but then, Pleasant rises up to his feet. The Crownless King wastes, spinning the arm and then snapping him down, hitting the ropes, looking for a kill shot.
Nick Stuart: SECACE–
Richard Parker: Pleasant JUST out of there–
Nick Stuart: And the scramble has Pleasant trying to gain an advantage, trying to wrap his arms around him and get a choke, but Coral Avalon elbows himself free, and the two are back up–
Richard Parker: There’s a chair in the ring.
Nick Stuart: Jimmy Turnbull not seeing the chair.
Richard Parker: I thought Lindsay Troy made it PERFECTLY clear about interference–
But Jiles has plausible deniability, because he’s not ‘interfering. He just put something in the ring. And Coral, seeing the chair, his eyes growing wide, motions for him to take it out. Jiles doesn’t budge. But Coral insists. The cryochamber link makes communication take place via telepathy. Jiles would blame Coral’s forehead for picking up his brain waves. Then, out of nowhere, Jiles looks towards signage in the arena. KFC Yum! As though the newest Bandit? made a salient point, Jiles quickly grabs the chair and pulls it out of the ring.
There is no respite, however, as Turnbull almost sees the whole thing take place. And there is no relief, as Pleasant shoots in, catching him with an elbow to the chin, stunning Avalon, all before grabbing hold of him and deadlifting and tossing him to the canvas carelessly. A sharp kick to the head of his downed opponent follows, and driving his forearm into Avalon’s face, Pleasant maintains hold for a pin.
Nick Stuart: Avalon kicking out–
Richard Parker: CHOKE!
Nick Stuart: Arthur Pleasant grabbing hold of a rear naked!
Turnbull scrambles with the vantage point, and the torque is immense! Avalon’s eyes bug out of his head.
Nick Stuart: THIS is not what I think ANYONE was expecting here with the former 5 Star Champion–
Richard Parker: He needs to tap or he’s going out!
No way. No how. Not after that big entrance! Jiles MUST intervene! He goes to grab the ropes, to push them towards Avalon so he can get his foot on them and get out of the submission. There is no thought behind it, just a sudden reflex. But Coral shoots The Main Event a death glare, all the more stark given how red his face is. How very Total Recall surface of Mars he’s looking right now.
And Jiles…actually is arguing for this new Bandit to put away his stubborn pride? That he’s trying to help him? And is Avalon willing to pass the hell out to save Jiles job?
Nick Stuart: Pleasant DEEP with this choke–
Richard Parker: OOOOOH! OH NO!
Nick Stuart: Avalon ABSOLUTELY THREW EVERYTHING HE HAD with his head back into the mouth of Pleasant, and it’s busted open Arthur’s lip, and…and…
Richard Parker: He’s SMILING!
Nick Stuart: Arthur Pleasant is SMILING through the blood here, and WOW!
Richard Parker: The choke hold was loosened for a moment but it’s back on tight as can be!
Nick Stuart: Avalon…AVALON…struggling…trying to get to the ropes and–
Richard Parker: Jiles is…backing up? Going around the ring? Trying to get out of the sight of Jimmy Turnbull?
Nick Stuart: He…he may be trying to avoid being a distraction in case Avalon MAKES THE ROPES! A spastic kick and that’s all Coral had left!
Richard Parker: But Pleasant isn’t letting go!
Nick Stuart: Arthur Pleasant OH NO! FULLY LOCKED IN! Turnbull is there! And he’s counting for him to break the hold!
Richard Parker: Did Pleasant just…lick the back of Avalon’s head?!
Nick Stuart: Pleasant with that hold in FIRM! He’s going to choke him out REGARDLESS!
Richard Parker: Oh my Hoyt what a strategy!
Nick Stuart: Strategy?
As if on cue, with Turnbull about to make the fifth count and officially disqualify him, Pleasant releases the hold. The strangled Coral Avalon limply falls over, hands meekly grabbing at his own throat.
And Arthur Pleasant, he rises up, grabbing and lifting Avalon up by the waistband of his tights, all before smashing him in the back of the head with a roaring elbow.
Nick Stuart: This has been calculating brutality here from Arthur Pleasant!
Richard Parker: Maybe Coral is like the dinosaurs. Dead. Except Rocky de Leon, or something…
To prove the point, Pleasant grabs hold of Avalon in a standing headscissor, looking to drop him with a piledriver that could well spend of the end of Coral’s time. Except…
Richard Parker: What the hell…
A KFC apron is now in the ring.
Nick Stuart: Is that…sponsorship?
Richard Parker: Jiles is a wolf. But not like you think. You know the saying ‘you are what you eat’?
Nick Stuart: Of course.
Richard Parker: He doesn’t get in the coop. He goes under it. Milling around with that snout those cute little Dollar Tree sunglasses rest on…truffle hunting for crap.
Nick Stuart: That’s…rather disgusting. And disconcerting.
Richard Parker: That makes him chicken sh–
Nick Stuart: Richard–
Richard Parker: –you think that KFC fascination is because wrestling was his second choice? Because he really wanted to make coleslaw but the illiterate moron couldn’t read the instructions?
Nick Stuart: Richard–
Richard Parker: Couldn’t spell KFC if you spotted him the K and the F.
The whole thing transpires because Arthur Pleasant is laughing his head off at this floppy piece of fabric dumped in the middle of the ring. Cancer Jiles, for his part, is making sure to not look at the ring, staring at the crowd, whistling. He didn’t do that. There’s no way.
And Arthur drops Avalon, bieling him away, all before stalking the KFC apron. And then, he stomps it. Again. And again. Heel of the boot. The force and velocity is insane. Soon, the apron is ripped open. And once it is, Pleasant pulls it off the canvas, taking a hefty bite from it, and then tearing it to ribbons, of which he keeps one piece.
This is his choking apron.
He makes his way back to Avalon, who is on his knees. Before Turnbull can even attempt to put a stop to what is about to happen, Coral launches into the ribs of Pleasant with a fierce elbow, then another, and another, and another. Pleasant tries to throw a kick to stop the blows, but there is no fifth, instead, the staggered Crownless King takes a few steps back, charging forward, putting his right foot into Arthur’s knee, leaps up and driving his opponent into the canvas with a devastating DDT.
Nick Stuart: DDT and Avalon needs to fire off quickly here–
Avalon gets to his feet, nearly falling back down. Pleasant is on his feet, stumbling, trying to stabilize. With a blind charge, Coral looks to take Arthur’s head off.
Nick Stuart: RHONGOMYNIAD–
Nick Stuart: PLEASANT AVOIDS–
Nick Stuart: AVALON AGAIN OOOOOOOH! OHH! FIREMAN’S CARRY!
Richard Parker: PLEASANT CAUGHT HIM!
From PRIME’S Worst Nightmare, a message; Fuck not just the Bandits, but the entire Almasy field, because Arthur Pleasant is moving on.
Nick Stuart: CALAMITY PAAAAAAAIN CONNECTS–
Until it doesn’t.
Nick Stuart: AVALON BARELY SQUIRMS AWAY–
Arthur tries to get his bearings.
Nick Stuart: SECACE! SECACE!
Pleasant took the wholeness of the running diving european elbow to the back of his head. He staggers up to his feet, eyes glassing over. A wild swing misses. Coral catches him with a boot to the gut, lifting him up before driving and sitting out.
Nick Stuart: EXCALIBUR! EXCALIBUR! EXCALIBUR!
Avalon flops over, covering Pleasant as soon as humanly possible.
DING DING DING
Pleasant’s legs kick upward, but there’s just not enough umph to get Coral up and off him. Avalon, for his part, rolls off, grabbing at his neck, staring wide eyed at Arthur Pleasant, knowing just how close he came to getting put down horribly by PRIME’S Worst Nightmare.
Nick Stuart: Avalon…survives!
Richard Parker: And survive is a way to put it. Damn. Arthur Pleasant is vicious, he’s savage, but look at how he went about his business tonight, it was seeing a pervert combat Picasso starting to feel himself.
Pleasant is furious, reaching out for Avalon, perhaps thinking that the match is still taking place.
Vince Howard: Yoooooour winner…and advancing to the second round…of the 2023 Seymour Almasy Invitational…COOOOOOOOOOOORAL! AAAAAAVALON!
There’s no point in the Crownless King lingering longer, especially with Pleasant looking ready to murder. Another trip to the cold box on the Octane probably isn’t something Coral wants to do. And as he rolls out of the ring, the Salt Shoes Style Messiah motions that the pair need to head to the back. Bobby might be just about ready to come out. Avalon, trying to catch his breath, asks why they don’t just stay outside, and if need be, have someone like Turnbull take care of the irate Pleasant.
Oh you Egg-O-Wan…so much to learn about stealing the show…
We then cut to the backstage area.
THE GAME (ONE) IS AFOOT!
We find ourselves backstage after Coral Avaon and Arthur Pleasant have their match to find four men lounging around backstage, seemingly waiting for someone.
First, you have Joe Fontaine, bedazzled as always. He’s pacing back and forth impatiently, his arms folded behind his back. You had Sid Phillips, who is looking at his cell phone and not paying a whole lot of attention here. You have Kenny Freeman with a towel around his neck, a decent amount of time removed after his battle with Darin Zion earlier in the night. And you have Randall Schwartz, still panicking over the earlier revelation alongside the realization that he is, for all intents and purposes, meant to be competing for the first time in months…and getting more and more annoyed about the delay in getting on with it.
Randall Schwartz: What exactly are we waiting on, again?
Joe Fontaine: FLAMBERGE is supposed to be here soon. I asked Goldie to bring him here.
Randall Schwartz: And Goldie is…?
Joe Fontaine: You know, big guy, kinda quiet, enjoys floral arrangements, but it’s not Hank? That guy. Had to jump through all of the hoops to get him here without us getting fined again.
Sid Phillips: Time out. Floral arrangements?
Joe Fontaine: Well, that’s what I assumed when he showed me his picture collection.
As he talks, the door opens and three beings wander into the room. One is a broad-shouldered, large man in a golden luchador’s mask. It’s quite possibly the same man who brought the Olympic torch last show. The second is Cardsworth, the cardboard version of everyone’s favorite Financier (citation needed). And the third is… well. It’s FLAMBERGE if seen through the lens of madness.
Which is to say that it’s an alpaca in a beret.
Joe Fontaine: There he is! Now we can get started.
Hank frowns as he sets Cardsworth down and hands the leash of FLAMpaca off to Sid Phillips, he holds it like he has absolutely no idea what the fuck to do with this new information that FLAMBERGE is now a South American livestock animal. It’s a situation that he finds so perplexing that even he’s uncertain if he could powerbomb his way out of it.
Joe Fontaine: So, rock-paper-scissors, is it?
The Masters both nod.
Sid Phillips: A powerbomb would defeat all three.
Joe Fontaine: Yeah, but it’s not called rock-paper-powerbomb, is it?
He turns to the Masters.
Joe Fontaine: So, best two-out-of-three?
Kenny and Randall nod in agreement.
Randall Schwartz: And no cheating! These are the Gentlemen’s Games, after all.
The Masters glare in the general direction of Sid.
Sid glares back. However, this is not a staring contest, and so FLAMBERGE makes a strongly-worded demand that they stop doing that. It just happens to sound like a high-pitched bray that catches everyone by surprise, even the Fabulous Gold Mask.
Sid, uh… sheepishly apologizes for the staring.
Joe prepares his fist for RPS action, before he looks expectantly at the Masters. He looks at the doorway, then the Masters, and back to the doorway, and then the masters.
One single solitary knock is all that is needed to turn the attention away from the rock-paper-scissors game, what came next was completely unnecessary. The Beasts of Tokyo step through the door first, followed by a still limping ‘Rhino horn’ Shinji Komiya. A dark shadow fills the door frame, and The Generalissimo walks through with a mysterious birdman walking behind him. Shinji steps forward between all the men and gestures around the room.
Shinji Komiya: You may enter, the Generalissimo awaits your presence.
Everyone stares at Shinji, except for the Monster Menagerie.
Sid Phillips: Did I uh, break him earlier?
Garry Ray-Ray Bolamba: No Sid Phillips, giver of the mighty Dale collectible trading cards, it’s just the only thing Rhinohorn knows how to say in English.
Sid Phillips: Oh…
Joe Fontaine backs away from The Generalissimo and looks over at the Masters sheepishly.
Joe Fontaine: Yeah, so he’s here to officiate…
Garry Ray-Ray Bolamba: The Generalissimo, as one of the premiere gentlemen in all of the world, grants you his personal guarantee of peace for this exciting… what are y’all here for ‘gain?
Joe Fontaine: Rock-paper-scissors.
Garry Ray-Ray Bolamba: Yes… rock-paper-scissors. LET THE GAMES COMMENCE!
Joe turns towards the masters, who are still, very, very, very, very, confused. The Generalissimo waves his hand at the men in attendance.
Garry Ray-Ray Bolamba: You have my guarantee of peace as a mediator, but if any of you…
Garry’s hand points towards Randall Schwartz.
Garry Ray-Ray Bolamba: Especially you.
Garry Ray-Ray Bolamba: IF ANY OF YOU break the truce, you will have an immediate declaration of war from Bolambaland. I will leave Shinji here to watch the events and go largely ignored for the rest of… well whatever it is we’re doing here.
With that, the Beasts of Tokyo take their exit from the room, the Generalissimo follows them out with a mysterious birdman slowly shutting the door while peering his large beady eyes into the room until the last possible moment.
Kenny Freeman: What in…
Joe Fontaine steps to the middle of the room, a large red welt still on the side of his face. He looks around, shrugs, and goes for it.
Joe Fontaine: So, who wants to take on the Red Mountain High School rock-paper-scissors champion…’s second alternate!?
Randall takes a step forward, but Kenny puts an arm out in front of him.
Kenny Freeman: Entertainer, I got this.
With that, Kenny steps up to the presumed battlefield for this contest, also prepared for the fis–er, also preparing his fist for that sweet RPS action. Together, in unison, the two of them perform a chant.
Joe Fontaine & Kenny Freeman: Rock, paper, scissors, shoot!
Joe throws scissors, and Kenny… hits him with the rock. Not literally. That’d be a crime, and the Glueminati has strong opinions about those. No, what we mean is that Kenny is victorious for the first round of the game.
Joe Fontaine: Dammit! I knew I shouldn’t have let Garry slap me!
Sid Phillips: Fine. I’ll do this myself.
Sid Phillips makes a show about removing the jacket of his suit, and then removing his tie along with it. He flexes. He flexes a lot. As though such a thing is very valuable in a simple rock-paper-scissors competition. He stands across from Kenny, ready to do battle… oh, no, wait. He needs to stretch a little bit. You know, because he got to powerbomb someone earlier tonight, so maybe he’s a bit tuckered out.
Okay, he’s ready.
Sid Phillips & Kenny Freeman: Rock, paper, scissors, shoot!
Sid goes with… okay, not a powerbomb, but you know he was thinking it. No, he goes with rock, because it’s the most powerbomb-like of all of the options. Unfortunately for him… Kenny has paper.
Joe can only facepalm.
Joe Fontaine: You’ve got to be fucking shitting me.
Kenny and Randall, naturally, celebrate like they finally won the PRIME Tag Team Championship…which, maybe in another universe, they might have. Who knows. In this universe, they have simply succeeded in winning Rock Paper Scissors, and that is all that matters right now. After they finish celebrating (because the champagne doesn’t come out till the series is won, folks), the Masters extend their hands out to the Glue Man Group as a show of sportsmanship, because of course.
Joe accepts. Sid, though reluctant, follows his lead.
Joe Fontaine: Fair enough. Well-played.
There’s a pause.
Joe Fontaine: But next show! Ohh, next show! We get to pick. And you know what I pick? We’re going to have ourselves a race! In office chairs!
Sid Phillips: Please don’t steal them from Lindsay Troy’s office.
Joe Fontaine: Don’t be ridiculous. We would never steal LT’s office furniture. We’re going to make Fabby do that.
The gold-masked luchador, who’d been silent this entire time, has a look of sheer panic at the prospect, and he wisely runs away from the scene, making a lot of noise as he knocks down the door to escape.
Joe Fontaine: He’ll come around.
Sid Phillips: Well, I hope the Enemigos don’t catch him.
The four men exchange nervous glances before the scene cuts away to whatever’s about to happen with Nate Colton. Oh and Rhinohorn was definitely here.
OPEN HAND OR CLOSED FIST
Sometimes you can tell when a wrestler has a match that night or if they’re just there to hang out backstage and eat buffalo wings. Not everyone wears their tights to just lounge backstage.
However, Paxton Ray is not one of those people. Whether he fights in the ring or attacks people backstage, he’s always wearing his white wifebeater, ripped jeans, and brown work boots. Tonight is no different: the biggest clue that he isn’t wrestling is that he usually skips catering on his match nights, and tonight he is chomping on an apple.
Nate Colton, by contrast, is still in his street clothes. Maybe standing around in the hallway in tight shorts is your idea of a good Friday night, no judgment, but it’s not his bag. He’s been watching the show in the locker room–enjoying his recovered acceptance–and just stepped out for a quick snack. Some carrot sticks, a bottled water…and yeah, maybe a few buffalo wings.
But as soon as he locks eyes with the Bayou Butcher, he suddenly loses his appetite.
Nate Colton: Hmm.
Paxton is in mid-bite when he sees The Next Diamond, so he doesn’t immediately say anything for fear of spewing apple chunks in anyone’s face. He is polite enough to wait another second before talking through his food.
Paxton Ray: (mouth full of apple) Sup.
Nate Colton: Paxton.
Colton pulls his hand away from the stack of plates and turns to leave, never taking his eyes off of Paxton Ray.
Nate Colton: Maybe I’ll come back later.
The Bayou Butcher waves his hand, then takes a few seconds to chew the rest of his food.
Paxton Ray: Nah, no need. I actually got a question for ya.
Paxton takes a few steps towards Nate, rubbing his beard.
Paxton Ray: I know ya had your little mess-up a few weeks back and got everybody mad atcha. I didn’t really care, but I know that they were mad, and now it seems they ain’t mad no more. I been tryin’ to apologize to some people and it ain’t gone so well. So how did ya do it?
The question stops Nate Colton in his tracks. This is almost certainly some kind of trick, meant to gain his trust and set up a later betrayal.
Only, who would trust Paxton Ray? Ever?
Besides, it didn’t seem like his style. The Lafayette Bruiser was usually, in both word and deed, very direct. Which meant that there was a chance–a slim chance, mind you–that he was on the level. Clearly this would need delicate handling, and Nate would have to choose his words carefully.
Nate Colton: Are you out of your goddamn mind?
Nate Colton: I mean yeah, I screwed up, and yeah, a lot of people got hurt by it. But it ain’t like I…well. I don’t have to say it, do I? You know what you did, and you seemed pretty damn proud of it, too.
The Bayou Butcher snarls for a second, but only for a second. It is a response, a reaction, that he quickly controls. It’s replaced by a frown directed at his boots.
Paxton Ray: Yeah, I mean. I ain’t gonna send Jon any Christmas cards. An’ I felt at the time he deserved to be hurt. But…this is tough. I dunno what t’say here. I jus’ am tryin’ t’be a better person. Sometimes I don’t even know why I’m tryin’. Nobody seems t’care. But here I am anyway.
From anyone else, this might have drawn sympathy from Nate Colton. But because it’s Paxton, it only ramps up Nate’s anger and disgust even more.
Nate Colton: Yeah, here you are. And you know who isn’t? Those kids you hurt at the Belmont last year. What the hell did they ever do to you? Or my sister–and don’t even try to bullshit me, I saw the look on your face after that match was over. You’d have put her out of the business if you had half a chance, just like you did to Justin and Sammy.
Paxton looks down at his feet as Nate speaks.
Nate Colton: Are you really sorry, Paxton? Or are you just pissed that your actions had consequences?
Paxton Ray: Consequences.
The word sticks in Paxton’s mouth like the apple he just finished.
Paxton Ray: Ya wanna talk about consequences? You got a few people mad at ya ‘cause let in some terrible woman. An’ ya acted like ya lost a puppy over it. I lost the only person I ever gave a shit about. And yeah, maybe I’m tryin’ t’make that right now, and maybe ya think it’s too late for me t’do that. But I’m fuckin’ tryin’, okay? What, ya want me t’find Daniels and get her t’send me back in time so I can just beat the kids and not hurt ‘em?
Paxton Ray: I talked t’others about it and they stood high from their ivory tower and judged me. I thought maybe ya would understand since ya stumbled from yours. But I guess ya think you’re too good for that.
Colton breathes in deep, ready to unload on Ray for even dreaming of comparing their respective sins. But for whatever reason–maybe Nate’s own recent tribulations, maybe just something his pastor said last week–what comes out instead…
Nate Colton: All right, Paxton. You want to make things right? Prove it.
Paxton Ray: What?
Nate Colton: That’s how I did it. I didn’t just tell them I was sorry; I showed them. So if you’re serious about this, you have to prove you’ve changed, and you gotta make amends with the people you hurt.
Paxton Ray: How.
Colton shakes his head.
Nate Colton: Damned if I know. You’ll have to figure that out yourself.
Paxton tenses up. His fists clench, he takes another step towards Colton, and…then he relaxes. He shakes his head and turns away.
Paxton Ray: Yeah. Yeah okay. Guess it’s what I get for tryin’. Whatever, man. This ain’t what I came here for. Ya want some space to eat your food without the big bad man botherin’ ya, go right ahead.
The Next Diamond watches him leave before absentmindedly picking his plate back up. He still sees the Bayou Butcher for the monster he’s acted like since UltraViolence last year.
But for the first time since that night, he can also see the silhouette of the man inside.
Cut to ringside.
BRANDON YOUNGBLOOD VS. BOBBY DEAN
In order to save time and energy Bobby Dean started making his way down to the ring during the prior segment. As such, when the feed jumps from Colton’s Crew to ringside it shows the radiant and rotund eGG Bandit already laboring up the ring steps while Joe Esposito’s “You’re the Best Around” booms throughout the arena.
Nick Stuart: Round One of the Seymour Almasy Invitational continues with Bobby Dean going up against last year’s winner, Brandon Youngblood. Surely a mismatch on paper, but with Brandon’s arm in the shape that it is in who knows?
Richard Parker: Dean is such a sloth. It’s admirable. It takes years of dedication to be as out of shape as he is.
At one point during Bob’s climb up the steps he desperately calls out to Ivan for some help with the ring ropes. The request is not obliged. Still, the Honaleean pushes through and manages to find the inside of the ring all by himself.
Maybe Bob had a little help from Elvis Nixon.
Vince Howard: Now inside the ring, from the humble home of Honalee, the owner of an incredible win loss record on Opposite Day, and Glory Hole of the eGG Bandits… BEAUTIFULLLLLLL BOBBBBBYYYYYYYY DEAAAANNNNN!
Also of note, Cancer and Coral escorted their Bandit brethren down to the ring in matching electric-blue tracksuits. However, they ignored Bob’s first plea for help because they were too busy avoiding Ivan while on their way over to the announce table.
Took the long way around.
Hence, why Bob desperately tried calling out to Ivan.
Nick Stuart: Looks like we’re going to have a few guests.
Richard Parker: Do they even make headsets that fit a forehead like that? I know we don’t have one down here.
That is true. There are only normal sized headsets at commentary. So, while both sit down, only Jiles joins the team. Coral doesn’t seem to mind so much, seeing as he’s just gotten back from the Dentist’s Office and all.
Cancer Jiles: What was that about Dollar Tree sunglasses!? You fucking crumb! Like I wasn’t going to find out. Now guess what?
Richard Parker: No. Please no. I take it back.
Cancer Jiles: Too late. I’m going to sit right here and root my buddy Bobby on.
Nick Stuart: Way to go, Rich.
Cancer Jiles: Tell me, did either of you cry as the last show went off the air? I figured you’d both be professionals, and at least wait until after the final in regard to the waterworks. Coral thought otherwise, and said that my glorious return to the MAIN EVENT and signature GOLDEN TICKET defense against a crumb like Colton was enough to trigger a salty discharge from one of you.
The Crownless King shakes his head no, signaling that he never said anything like that. He and everyone else are lucky he stopped shaking it when he did, or else a tornado might have broken out inside the GMH Yum! Center from the intense head winds he was so adamantly yet nonchalantly generating.
(General Manager Hanson)
Nick Stuart: How can you parade this man around like a trophy and act as if everything is honkey dory? Do you not have a heart? Do you not have a soul?
Cancer Jiles: Is that a trick question?
The principles are at the ready. And truly, this is quite the special moment. PRIME is blessed with A SECOND Cancer Jiles entrance with a Bandit, back to back. Would there be an attire change? Is this the Crump Plaza on March 27, 1988. WHAT THE WORLD IS WATCHING!
Russia One Newscaster and International Sports Correspondent Olga Karishnikov made it clear that ‘Beautiful’ Bobby Dean, while fat, disgusting, out of shape, a waste of space, a waste of breath, the sole reason for the Polar ice caps melting because of belches and farts from Dine and Doordashing used oil from KFC locations close to USS Octane ports, The Next Spokesperson For Type 2 Diabetes, and Unlikely’s Wrestling T-Shirt Depot’s Silver Medalist for Wrestler of the Year 2021, was the stone cold HoytDuel lock of the week to advance in the Almasy…because his opponent was not going to show. Because he is sobbing uncontrollably. Because his colostomy bag made the big boom boom and what’s inside is glued to the grout lines of bathroom tiles. Because he’s in mortal fear.
Ivan Stanislav and Cancer Jiles. What wonderful company for the man who is not coming out.
BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD
SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE
LET THE GALAXY BURN
From the very start of Bloodsport (World Domination) by HEALTH, Brandon Youngblood surges from the curtain and into the well of sound filling the KFC Yum! Center. Through the blinding blue and white strobing light cutting through the darkness, the Tower of Babel powerwalks, his eyes trained forward, an oppressive scowl of intensity a hallmark painting his face. The scratches, the swelling, the battle wounds, all evident before and during a warm autumn night in Chicago are now gone or faded. While not grown back in full, the goatee and mustache features prominent on his face. Then, there’s the big ass Gronk arm brace covering the entirety of his left arm.
Stanislav rises to his feet, irate at the very presence of this beaten, scolded dog. The audacity to even dare show his cowardly face after UltraViolence! And while Bobby Dean has flashbacks to the Almasy last year, when he OF COURSE faced The Tower of Babel, before his record needed expunged because he finds being below someone who once was in a tag team called Sex & Money unacceptable to his sense of self, all Salt Shoes Jiles can do is look over to Stanislav, T-Shades and platinum locks on point (because they always are, what, don’t you read?), offer a smirk, and ask a simple question.
Cancer Jiles: First time?
Youngblood’s shoulders sway with the bravado of his BMF walk, a spotlight lighting his path. The defending Almasy Invitational champion is quick down the ramp, his gait swinging him around the arena floor, to the ring steps. There is no slowdown as his feet pound the steel, stepping between the ropes and exploding upright. Once inside, he begins pacing around the outside perimeter of the ring, his eyes locking onto The Man From Honalee, all as Vince Howard makes his announcement.
Vince Howard: His opponent…hailing from Bandera, Texas by way of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada… weighing in at 265 pounds… he is…THE 2022! SEYMOUR ALMASY! INVITATIONAL! CHAAAAAAAMPION! He is…BRAAAAAAAANDON! YOUNGBLOOOOOOOOOD!
The lights return, and as they do, the Suplex Daddy readies himself in an amateur stance, his hands on his thighs, a snarl of disdain curling his lips. No look toward Stanislav. Nothing toward Jiles. His sights are set on only one man; Bobby Dean.
And more than anything, he wants to get him more than a pound of flesh to make some bacon tonight.
Coral Avalon, while present for all this, is here for moral support. And also, well, he’s got the obligation. Maybe it will get him a fifteen second reprieve from forehead jokes? Or maybe, just maybe, there’s a small part of him thinking about the what if of Bobby Dean doing what most would think unthinkable? That maybe The Bandits being three truly DOES mean ALL of them reaching their peak powers.
Robert, rotund as ever, and beautiful as ever, looks across the ring at his opponent and… yawns.
Nick Stuart: Seems like Bob is ready for war.
Richard Parker: The Bandit way.
Youngblood, even with Yanni Dean, tweedle dee, tweedle dumb, and Coral’s forehead down by the ring, remains as focused as ever. It could also be he’s mesmerized by the fact that Bob’s chin still hasn’t stopped echoing from the prior yawn. But, for the sake of argument and the ounce of sanctity in this match, Youngblood, and his robotic arm remain unphased.
Nick Stuart: I still can’t over the contraption on Brandon’s left arm and how he’s out here competing tonight.
Cancer Jiles: My bet is the Winter Soldier is really fine, and he’s just using that thing as his excuse for when he loses to Bobby.
Richard Parker: How much?
The former two time Universal Champion and last year’s Almasy winner moves in, but Bobby has been around the block, and somewhat quickly, at least quickly for him, is able to lean between the top two ropes which brings Elvis Nixon in between the two.
Cancer Jiles: I taught him that.
Richard Parker: How to be a coward?
Cancer Jiles: No, Crumblood already knew that one.
Richard Parker: I hate you so much.
Bobby begs Elvis to make Brandon leave the building. Youngblood, being the reasonable man that he is, agrees to meet them halfway and retreats back to his corner. The Honaleean postures as if he’s won the match, actually turning his back to Youngblood in order to get a modicum of adoration from his brethren.
It doesn’t come.
Cancer Jiles: TURN AROUND YOU IDIOT!
The warning is too late. Youngblood, thirsty for the prize, swoops in and shoulder blocks Bobby while he’s got his back turned and between the ropes. The thunderous impact would’ve caused a normal man to shit himself on the spot. However, Robert Dean is no ordinary man. Instead, he just goes thump onto the outside.
Nick Stuart: GOOD GOD THE IMPACT!
Richard Parker: That’s going to leave a mark. Literally. Maybe a ditch, or a crevice would be a better word for it. Crater even. Oh, and Jiles, didn’t you make it to the finals of this thing last year? Who’d you lose to again?
Cancer Jiles: I’ll tell you, but then we get to find out if your skull would crack like an egg if Coral used it to amper against his forehead. We can even do the bit for the Halloween special aboard the USS Octane. Deal?
Youngblood drops down to the mat and rolls under the bottom rope. He lands a few boots to Bobby as Elvis Nixon begins to count.
Richard Parker: Why don’t you go and help your friend out?
Cancer Jiles: You know why.
Richard Parker: Because if you interfere in this match you get fired?
Cancer Jiles: Yes.
Richard Parker: Coward.
Eventually, Youngblood helps Bob back up to his feet, and for his gratitude is met with a sudden thumb to the eye. The Tower of Babel reels back in agony because let’s be honest, who knows where that thumb has been, and during this time of peril Bobby grabs Brandon’s good arm and slams it onto the edge of the ring apron. He then grabs that same arm again, and whips it into the ring post. A huff and a puff later, and Bobby rolls Younglood back into the ring. Once back inside, Bobby goes right back to work on Youngblood’s unbraced arm by plopping down and locking in an arm bar. A sloppy, mostly a rest move and nothing too strenuous or dangerous, wrong arm arm bar.
Nick Stuart: Say, is it me or is Bobby working over the wrong arm?
Richard Parker: Seems like it.
Bob points to his head as if to say he is smart by taking advantage of Brandon’s ailments. While doing this, he accidentally releases the arm bar. However, instead of rolling away to safety, Youngblood stays put and keeps his good arm extended in case Bobby wants to reapply the hold.
Cancer Jiles: IT’S THE WRONG ARM YOU IDIOT!
This time around Bobby hears the warning. He looks down at Brandon, and before reapplying the hold asks him which arm is the one that is hurt. Brandon kindly informs him it’s the one with a giant brace. More importantly, Brandon tells Bob that he’s sorry for what comes next.
Cancer Jiles: Shit.
Youngblood easily wiggles his way free from Bob’s girth, which is impressive in and of itself especially when you take the bad left arm into account. He then quickly gets to his feet, and lands a series of amateur wrestling moves ending with a Back Wheel Trip that leaves Robert in a total shit heap.
Nick Stuart: The impact!
Richard Parker: I bet that broke some part of the ring.
Cancer Jiles: SHIT.
Elvis Nixon goes to check in on Bobby, making sure he wants to continue. Luckily for Bob, he is panting so badly he can not speak. Youngblood meanwhile stalks around the ring, moving that mechanical arm of his around as if he’s about to test his and its strength. Bob starts to shuffle to his feet, and would kill for a fresh breath of air. Youngblood comes up from behind, and wraps his arms around Bob as best as he can.
Nick Stuart: He’s not gonna…
The former two time UNIVERSAL CHAMPION and winner of last year’s ALMASY tournament goes to hoist Bob up for a simple German Suplex, and when he does that brace of his buckles like it were attached to one of Young Forest’s legs. Youngblood, being the super dynamo that he is, still lands some of the German. Bobby goes backwards, but it’s more to the side, and more importantly, he winds up bouncing Elvis Nixon clean out of the ring.
Richard Parker: These guys cheat even when they aren’t trying to.
Cancer Jiles: The Bandit way.
Youngblood gets up first, since, well since he’s up against Bobby Dean and there isn’t a fresh funnel cake down at ringside to stir the senses. He looks over his left arm, and the brace that is going to need an oil change at the very least. He does not like what he sees, nor feels for that matter. He tries to ball his fist, which turns out not to be a good idea. The pain is real. Tangible. He will not be able to do that again.
Not to Bobby Dean at least.
Speaking of Bobby Dean, well, he’s still trying to get upright. It will probably take a few more seconds, but luckily for Bobby, Brandon has noticed that Elvis Nixon is in the third row, and not moving. Youngblood starts to yell at Jiles and Coral to get him and roll him back in the ring. To which they respond by both holding their hands up high as if to say they aren’t allowed to interfere.
While Brandon is arguing with the Bandits, and trying to ignore the radiating pain emanating from his left arm, and there is no referee in the ring, Bobby, while down on one knee, hits a low blow that instantly drops Youngblood to the canvas.
Cancer Jiles: STUFF HIM! STUFF HIM NOW!
The way Brandon falls is not good. Not for a guy who doesn’t want to get stuffed anyway. He’s kind of slumped over, clutching at his marbles with his one good arm while the other one dangles in the wind. Bobby is standing over him, and they are near the ropes so he can use them to leverage the taller Youngblood.
Richard Parker: Well, at least his arm doesn’t hurt anymore.
Nick Stuart: This doesn’t look good for the tournament’s defending champion.
Jiles is too excited to speak. His hand is reached out, and is rubbing Coral’s forehead as if it were a rabbit’s foot. One, that’s one big rabbit’s foot. Two, Jiles’ hand looks like a baby’s hand against Coral’s forehead.
It is comical.
Not as comical as…
…Bobby reaches down, grabs Youngblood by his ears.
And he stuffs him. Bobby Dean stuffs Brandon Youngblood’s head down his trunks. Maybe if his nuts weren’t in his throat, and his left arm was working, but neither were true. Worst of all, since Bobby did have the leverage, and did want to continue on, and did want the power of three to mean more than then Bandit’s were just charming….
Cancer Jiles: DEANER FUCKING WEINER!!! OH MY GOD HE PLANTED HIM! THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING!
Richard Parker: The top of the building is going to be a busy place tonight. I can’t believe it.
Nor can Bobby. Youngblood is laying on the mat. He’s done. Bobby rolls over, hooks the leg deep, and….
There’s no fucking referee.
Richard Parker: Don’t even think about it. Either of you. You don’t want to get fired, do you? HAHAHAHA! How fitting!
Out from the back, yellow face paint and all, is HEAD PRIME senior referee Timo Bolamba. He is absolutely racing his way down to the ring. Like, he’s running down there as if he’s about to meet someone who is going to offer him a total redo with Eddie Cross. And even though he gets down there as quickly as possible, and even though he slides perfectly under the bottom rope, and is in the exact perfect position to count the pin…
Cancer Jiles: What the fuck was that shitass count!?! I could have made a fucking sandwhich during that count! BOLAMBA! YOU SCREWED US AGAIN!!!
Seeing red, not Ivan, but actual red, Jiles throws his headset at Richard Parker, and tries to enter the ring. Luckily, Coral is there to keep him from doing anything stupid. Bobby doesn’t know what to do. No one has ever kicked out of the Deaner Weiner, partly because no one has ever really suffered its wrath.
Richard Parker: I don’t care, but no matter what happens thank God he is gone.
Nick Stuart: Agreed.
Bobby, still in disbelief, looks at Timo like he’s supposed to be telling him what to do next. Coral is occupied with Jiles. Ivan has a small smile across his face. Dick and Nick are still happy that Jiles is no longer part of the commentary team.
And for Brandon Youngblood…
The same Brandon Youngblood who won this tournament last year. The same one who just got stuffed like a turkey. Well, he has come to, and the singlet straps have come down.
Nick Stuart: Say Goodnight to Bobby.
Richard Parker: It was a good run.
Youngblood, seemingly pain free from his trip to the dark side, is up on his feet. So is Bobby, but Bob doesn’t know about Brandon. So, in order to fix that, Youngblood spins Bobby around and with his battered arm lights Bobby’s chest up with a single, precise, ferocious, Nemean Lion knife edge chop. The severity knocks the soul and mayonnaise clean out of Bobby Dean.
Sure as fuck the will to keep on fighting.
Nick Stuart: That was right over Bob’s heart. It was like Youngblood was trying to kill him!
Richard Parker: Maybe he killed him with the initial shock, and then brought him back to life with the chop. Like he used the chop as a defibrillator.
Nick Stuart: Maybe.
Youngblood drops down and covers Bobby. Jiles screams out in agony, while Coral stops his lazy attempt to charge the ring. Ivan sneers. Nick and Dick fistbump since their bracket is still intact.
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: Here is your winner, Brandon Youngblood!
Timo raises Brandon’s arm in victory. The good one. The one Bob was working over earlier in the match.
PRIME officials move in to tend to Elvis Nixon in the third row.
Cut to commercial.
COMMERCIAL: COLOSSUS 2023
I’M NOT A ROLE MODEL
The arena is still abuzz from the Brandon Youngblood/Bobby Dean match, even with the buffer of a commercial break. Suddenly, the fans have reason to roar again.
“Cynic” by Local H.
Nick Stuart: The Anglo Luchador? He wasn’t on my runsheet.
Richard Parker: Of course, he’s running around like he owns the joint. Really not beating the big ego charges from KING now, is he?
Nick Stuart: Look, he’ll tell you himself his ego is big, but uh, I don’t think Rose and Noble and the gang are what we call “reliable narrators” here.
The Anglo Luchador rushes out, head down, dressed in his gear, ready for the main event. He doesn’t slap hands, or really look at anyone, out of the ordinary for him. He slides into the ring and motions for Vince Howard to give him a microphone.
Richard Parker: Oh boy, he’s got something to say.
The Luchador taps on the microphone and lifts it to his mouth.
TAL: I know I’m due out here not much further in the future, but I got something I need to get off my chest.
It’s clear from the tone of his voice he’s bothered, and his manic pacing buttresses that mood.
TAL: You might have heard Rose, you know, Dusk’s daughter…
A cheer rises up for the PRIME Hall of Famer.
TAL: …yeah, Dusk, my friend. His daughter, though. Apple fell far from the tree. But she came out here two weeks ago, last show, and she said something, not anything original, and that’s the fucking problem.
Richard Parker: Language! My ears!
Nick Stuart: Rich, we’re TV-MA and on streaming. Plus there are people who come out here and say worse.
TAL: It’s the same from people like Nackedy, wherever that asshole is nowadays, or Pleasant, or the current Champion…
The Luchador stares daggers at Ivan Stanislav, still seated at ringside as he adjusts himself in his seat.
TAL: …or Tony Gamble or hey, I know, they’re all the bad guys here. Bitter, jealous. But they’re not the only ones saying it. People think I’m deaf at best, or just an idiot at worst, and they think I can’t hear. But I do, I hear people like Justine Calvin say it too. There goes that “hero,” a-a-and not in the way people talk about firemen or Sully Sullenberger or the fucking Avengers.
A hush goes over the crowd. The fans do not know how this is going to unfold.
TAL: And yeah, that’s on me. Part of being a wrestler is branding, right? The best wrestlers are amplified versions of themselves, and I’m not perfect by any means, but I try. I really do. I try to be the best person I can be, and…
He pulls the microphone back, puts his free hand up to his temple, and vigorously shakes his head.
Richard Parker: Look at him, he’s so full of himself.
Nick Stuart: I don’t think that’s the posture or the mannerisms of a narcissist.
TAL: …you know what, let me paint a better picture for you. Louisville, you guys like basketball, right?
A big roar rises up from the crowd.
TAL: Yeah, lots of history here, Denny Crum, Pervis Ellison, Rick Pitino, Terrence Williams, three titles, but I’m a Sixers fan, and one of my first memories was watching a guy named Charles Barkley. Remember him?
A roar comes up from the crowd. Louisville knows ball, even when the guys they’re cheering are Auburn alums.
TAL: Yeah, when he was traded, the Sixers broke my heart for the first time. Certainly not the last time, but this isn’t about my basketball fandom here. It’s about something Barkley said. He said that he wasn’t a role model. It was bold, because people wanted to be like Mike at the time. Bo knew, right? It was all marketing, and yeah, Charles saying that was marketing too, he said it in a Nike ad. But the point is he was being honest. Charles Barkley has always been honest.
Richard Parker: I’m more of a Shaq guy anyway.
Nick Stuart: Will you stop it?
TAL: So I have to be honest with you. I’m not a role model. I’m not a hero. I haven’t lived up to my branding.
He sighs and slumps in place ever so slightly.
Richard Parker: I hope his next words are that he’s forfeiting tonight and letting Cecilworth advance without breaking a sweat.
TAL: I’m not saying that I’m giving up and just doing whatever it is I want around here like three quarters of the rest of the roster. I’m just saying, heroes succeed. I haven’t. I failed Nora. I failed my brother. I failed you guys here and watching on ACE, and I failed my peers. Nate Colton. Kid was struggling, and what’d I do? Where was I? My kids call him uncle. What about Dusk, dying at home? Nova got chased out of the company by two guys I couldn’t stop from rampaging despite standing in their way in Paxton Ray and Hoyt Williams. I let branding and hubris get to my head, and people paid.
The crowd continues to murmur its confusion.
Nick Stuart: The Anglo Luchador baring his soul out here. I’m shocked.
Richard Parker: He’s finally talking some sense! Look, even Ivan is nodding.
Nick Stuart: Rich, I’m going to teach you about bias after the show.
Richard Parker: Don’t be silly, Nick. You know nothing about audio engineering.
TAL: I’m not a hero. I’m not a role model. I know people like to hand-wave heinous actions when you do them to awful, evil people, but I am still sick to my stomach using that shock collar, and even having it used on me didn’t feel adequate enough.
The crowd starts booing a little.
TAL: But the thing about people is that they never really stop growing or changing. Everything I’ve done since getting here, I’ve tried to do for the right reasons. I have no idea if I succeeded, but all I can do is try to atone for my mistakes and do the next right thing. If there’s anyone in that locker room with the moral authority to call me on my shit, go right ahead.
The Luchador goes over to the corner with the pace of a caged dog, slams his head on the top turnbuckle, and turns around whipping the mic to his face.
TAL: BUT I’LL BE DAMNED IF I’M GOING TO LET PIECES OF SHIT CONTINUE TO JUMP ME, DRUG ME, SPILL MY FUCKING BLOOD TO TELL ME HOW MUCH OF A PIECE OF SHIT I AM WHILE COMMITTING FELONIES ON MY PERSON.
The crowd unleashes a huge RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH.
TAL: Rose, David, you two lure me into the boss’ office, trying to use her and the Bad Dog as a shield, thinking you can weasel your way out of consequences when you drug me and throw me around and bloody me after I went through hell. All so you can lecture me on how bad I’ve been doing? And you think you can do it because it seems everyone gets their turn on The Anglo Luchador. Walk off scot-free.
Richard Parker: He’s not really doing a good job selling himself here.
Nick Stuart: You really are incorrigible, Rich.
TAL: That all stops. That all stops now. I’m done with branding. I’m done with trying to sell myself because in selling myself, I’ve lost myself. Tonight, I’m going to dump a can of solvent on Ceece. Next week, I’m going to show third time’s a charm against Youngblood. I’m going to win this side of the bracket and on Night One of Colossus, I’m going punch my ticket to face that Soviet relic with the berserk pituitary gland sitting right there on his gerontocratic ass.
Ivan feigns shock before shaking his head as if the Luchador was, once again, talking crazy.
TAL: But night two, David, Rose, the courier boy, one of those dickheads in that tag team, hell, ALL FUCKING FIVE OF YOU, I want to show you what happens when you don’t think about the consequences of your actions. I may not be a hero, but I know right from wrong. My mom used to say right is right and wrong is nobody. Well KING? All five of you? You’re all a huge fucking pile of nobody right now and I prove that at the biggest show of the year.
The Luchador throws his microphone, causing a huge screech to hit through the PA system, one that barely drowns out the cheers from the crowd. The Luchador walks off as the camera cuts backstage.
WORST HOT ONES INTERVIEW I’VE EVER SEEN
Paxton Ray is annoyed.
Over the past month, he has lost his first round match to Tony Gamble, and he has had terse interactions with Jared Sykes, Chandler Tsonda, and now Nate Colton. The night is nearing its end, and he just wants to go back to the catering table and eat his wings in peace.
As he walks towards the catering table, he sees someone standing in his way.
Rich Patterson, likewise, is annoyed.
Not only had he been dismissed in the first round of the Almasy at ReV 37, but he’d lost his PRIME debut — an opportunity to make a splash in a marquee organization after years of toiling in regionals — to Jonathan-Christopher Hall, partially, and Vickie Hall, primarily. Unbooked, he’d had half a mind to find the Halls and field-dress them in some anteroom of the Yum! Center. Instead, he’s loitered at the catering table most of the evening, putting work in on a crudité platter.
Of course he knows who Paxton Ray is. Bayou Butcher. Alex DeLarge devotee. Not in possession of a Father of the Year mug.
The two men share a look before Paxton nods his head.
Paxton Ray: Hey. Mind movin’?
Rich Patterson: You put on a good show at 36. Shame how it ended.
Paxton mutters in response, then steps past Patterson. There is incidental contact between the two.
Paxton Ray: Yeah, sucked.
Reaching over Patterson, Ray picks up some buffalo wings and puts them on his plate. He looks over at Patterson, who is watching him.
Paxton Ray: Ya were in a match too, right? Did ya win?
Rich Patterson: Right until I didn’t. That’s cheats for you, though.
The Bayou Butcher nods and brings his plate up, but his hand slips and a bit of buffalo sauce flies off of his plate and onto Patterson’s new PRIME-branded shirt.
Paxton Ray: Lotta those here. Aw, shit. Sorry. Guess it wouldn’t have happened if you’da moved when I asked, though.
Patterson looks down and wipes away the little droplets of sauce from his shirt.
Rich Patterson: I was making smalltalk. Don’t worry over it. It’s your way to ruin nice things. It was only a matter of time it’d happen to me.
To this point, Paxton had been stiff, but cordial. As soon as he hears the word “ruins,” though, he stands up straight and takes a deep breath.
Paxton Ray: Ruin things? ‘Less I forgot, this is our first time meetin’, but you’re talkin’ like you know anythin’ ‘bout me.
Rich Patterson: Happy to meet a colleague, but don’t walk round like your reputation doesn’t precede you here to the hospital you put your friend in.
Okay, we’ve now reached “put your wings down because you might need your hands for something else” territory. Paxton bites his lower lip as he sets his plate down, then cracks his neck.
Paxton Ray: All right. I ain’t really enjoyin’ the way this conversation is goin’, ‘specially since it shoulda ended when I said to move and then ya could scurry off somewhere where your mouth won’t get ya in trouble. Yeah, I did some things. But I’m tryin’ t’be better. Been tryin’ to make things right, though nobody seems willin’ t’meet me halfway.
Patterson laughs through his nose.
Rich Patterson: No points for guessing how come. How many bridges you burn here? I’m not using that phrase idiomatically, by the way. What’s halfway without a bridge? Middle of a river? Middle of the interstate? Halfway with you’s still a fine way to get hurt.
Paxton shakes his head.
Paxton Ray: I can think’a couple other ways t’get hurt. Like runnin’ your mouth ‘bout somebody ya say ruins nice things. So whaddaya think, new guy? Are ya a nice thing?
He takes a step towards Patterson.
Patterson meets him. The two stand chest-to-chest.
Rich Patterson: Nicer than you.
He pokes Ray.
Rich Patterson: You don’t know a thing about me — but you know that. Because you’re Paxton Ray, and you’re the worst of us.
A few fans can be heard from the arena saying “oooooooh.” The Sneer, which had been missing from Paxton’s face for most of his last few appearances, returns to its rightful place, and let me tell you, it fits like a glove.
Paxton Ray: The worst’a us.
He looks down at the table.
Paxton Ray: Been tryin’ t’be nice t’everyone, but fine. Let’s be the worst’a us.
Quicker than a flash, Paxton flings his right hand up, sending the plate of wings into Rich Patterson’s face, giving him the opening to begin to push Rich back with punches. But the rookie quickly recovers, and they both trade punches until they fall into the catering table. It breaks fairly easily, sending food to the floor with the two brawlers.
This scene only lasts for a few more moments before a gaggle of Enemigos swarm in, grabbing both men and pulling them apart. For his part, Paxton immediately stops trying to go for Patterson, but he doesn’t drop the sneer.
Patterson allows the Enemigos to keep him at bay. He reaches over them, pointing at Paxton Ray.
Rich Patterson: You “did some things,” Paxton, but I don’t have the first clue why you think you’re going to make them right. Look at this — (broadly gesturing) — you couldn’t get through some pleasantries without going feral.
Paxton Ray: Pleasantries. Whatever.
Wiping his face, Paxton turns, raising his arms so the Enemigos let go of him. He then takes a few steps away.
Paxton Ray: You an’ I ain’t done, new guy.
The Bayou Butcher looks over at the fallen table. He just wanted some hot wings.
Paxton Ray: God, bein’ nice is so fuckin’ hard.
He walks away as the camera stays focused on Patterson.
Rich Patterson: Ain’t it, though.
The camera cuts back to ringside.
CHANDLER TSONDA VS. ANNA DANIELS
Nick Stuart: All right, coming up next is a match that should really set the ring on fire!
Richard Parker: Metaphorically speaking. We don’t want to be unclear.
Nick Stuart: Chandler Tsonda has been hitting his stride lately, winning the Alias Championship off of Tony Gamble. Meanwhile Anna Daniels is on a four match losing streak after winning the Intense Championship from Paxton Ray. Will Anna get back on track, or will Chandler Tsonda give them five losses in a row? Let’s find out!
“I said ‘kiss me, you’re beautiful’
These are truly the last days'”
The weathered voice from the beginning of Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s “Dead Flag Blues” fades into the short acoustic section that begins Coheed & Cambria’s “Welcome Home.” After twelve seconds, the guitars thunder in and start to kick ass, as gold and green pyro goes off in perfect timing with the power riffs.
As the PRIME*View displays the words “Model Citizen” in white over a black background, Tsonda swaggers out from behind the curtain. He soaks up the fan’s reaction at the top of the ramp, smirk painted across his face. And amidst the haze of pyro, smoke, and green & gold lights, he sprints to the ring, slides in under the bottom rope, and finally acknowledges his opponent. Tsonda bounces on his toes, mouthing something that’s inaudible to anyone but him.
Following him, “A Darkness in My Soul” by Solid Space plays, and Anna Daniels emerges. The Muse surveys the crowd before slowly walking towards the ring. As they near the apron, they look up at Chandler Tsonda, emotionlessly taking them in.
Daniels rolls under the ring ropes, bouncing up and pulling on the ropes. They walk around the ring, keeping their eyes on Tsonda. Finally, they settle near the middle of the ring.
Nick Stuart: Here we are in the penultimate Almasy tournament match of the night, and it should be a great one. Daniels, a former Intense Champion, trying to get a big win over the current Alias Champion Chandler Tsonda.
Daniels is first to go on the offensive, as she rushes in with a forearm, sending Tsonda back. He stands his ground and hits them back with a forearm of his own. They trade blows back and forth until the larger Tsonda takes control, leading Daniels into a turnbuckle and delivering an elbow to their face in the corner. Daniels is dazed, and even more so when the Model Citizen grabs Daniels’ head and slams it into the turnbuckle.
Nick Stuart: Brawling start for both competitors. Tsonda wants to weaken Daniels early on so he can apply his weight advantage, which is something he doesn’t typically have on his opponents.
Richard Parker: How much do you think the rest of the Multitudes weigh?
Nick Stuart: What?
Richard Parker: Well, if we count everyone that is inside of Anna Daniels, it’s not that much of a disadvantage. In fact I’d say they weigh much more than Tsonda.
Nick Stuart: That’s not how it works, I think.
Daniels stumbles out of the turnbuckle where Tsonda is waiting. He picks her up and dumps her onto the canvas in a body slam.
Richard Parker: OH MY GOD WHAT STRENGTH FROM TSONDA!
Nick Stuart: What are you talking about? Daniels is only – oh I get it.
Richard Parker: The most impressive feat I’ve ever seen!
Tsonda, oblivious to Parker snark, presses his advantage on Daniels, who rolls over in an attempt to push themselves to their feet. Tsonda grabs Daniels’ head and slams it back on the mat, then quickly rolls them over for a pinfall.
Nick Stuart: And a quick kickout from Anna.
Richard Parker: Well yeah, hard to keep all that weight down for three seconds.
Nick Stuart: I understand the joke you’re going for, but you’re getting dangerously close to saying something offensive.
Richard Parker: Heaven forbid!
Tsonda rolls Daniels to their feet and leans them against the ropes, then Irish whips them into the other side. Daniels comes back and ducks under a clothesline attempt, then hits the other ropes and rushes back at Tsonda. The Model Citizen is ready and leaps into the air over Daniels, then turns around just in time to bend over and send Daniels into the air for a back body drop.
Or at least that was the intention. Daniels lands on their feet, then turns around. Tsonda turns around to meet their gaze, and the fans cheer in response to the spectacle.
Nick Stuart: What a great display of athleticism! Both competitors trying to get an advantage, but here we are, back to square one!
Richard Parker: Both are probably a little winded after that display, though.
If they are, there is no sign of it, as they once again approach each other. Daniels goes for a kick, but Tsonda dodges and sends his own kick to Daniels’ knee. The Muse attempts another kick but the process repeats, once and then twice. Daniels appears to learn their lesson, as they send one more kick, but feign at the last second, moving in the same direction as Tsonda does and delivering an elbow to his face.
Nick Stuart: Daniels fighting Tsonda back here, and you have to think they are really motivated by the bounty aspect of this match. If they win, not only do they move on in the Almasy, but they also get a title shot for the Alias Title!
Tsonda covers his beautiful face and stumbles backward, trying to check for loose or missing teeth. Daniels sees an opportunity and grabs Tsonda’s head and slams him back in a reverse DDT. They don’t immediately go for the cover. They look down for a second before running towards the corner and climbing up, then springing back in a corkscrew shooting star press, landing with an elbow drop.
Nick Stuart: Cake or death! What a move, and there’s the cover!
Tsonda kicks out.
Nick Stuart: Wow, kickout there but Daniels is going for the big hitters early! They really want this win and this bounty!
Richard Parker: Uh huh, and? You think Tsonda’s just like “welp, I don’t really want to win”?
Nick Stuart: That’s not what I…
Richard Parker: “Hello, I’m Chandler Tsonda, PRIME wrestler and pretty face. I am in the most competitive federation in the world, but I actually would prefer to smooch myself in a mirror than win wrestling matches.” Is that what you think he’s saying?
Nick Stuart: …what?
Daniels, all of the momentum on their side, decides to remain in a seated position. They scoot over to the fallen Tsonda and grab their neck, wrenching on them in a side headlock. Tsonda groans in pain, but quickly braces his legs so that he can stand, taking Daniels with him. Tsonda slaps Daniels on the back to try and release the hold, but The Time Lord does not comply. They wrench on the hold for a bit longer. Tsonda walks towards the corner, then leans against the ropes there and tries to run. The problem is that it’s hard to run without your head, so he only gets a few steps before bending over as Daniels continues to apply the headlock.
Nick Stuart: The Muse won’t let go!
Richard Parker: Well, Tsonda sort of brought this on himself with his new stipulation. He wants to set random time limits on defenses? He’s basically asking who the best wrestler is, and I think his opponents will see that as a challenge!
Nick Stuart: That was an incredibly astute observation, Richard.
Richard Parker: Also this headlock has to hurt, that’s like 10000 pounds of force on his neck!
Nick Stuart: There it is.
Tsonda is getting a little desperate here. Not only does he need his head to run, but he needs it to do a lot of other things too. In fact, there is likely only a 2% chance he wins this match without his head. So now he begins to fling his arms wildly, connecting with Daniels’ torso in an attempt to get them to loosen their grip. It works, at least somewhat: Daniels dips their elbow slightly to try and block the swings. And this is when Tsonda uses his weight to roll, causing both competitors to fall to the ground. Tsonda rolls through, breaking the lock and getting to his feet. He then immediately sends a sliding dropkick to Daniels’ face.
Nick Stuart: Fantastic move by Tsonda! He worked to found an opening and it ended with a beautiful dropkick!
Richard Parker: Looks like the damage may have been done, though. He’s favoring his neck!
Indeed, Tsonda stands up, grabbing his neck, and the pain is enough to get him to fall to one knee. This allows Daniels to start to get to their feet. They both turn and see each other at the same time and think the same thought, as they both rush in for a double clothesline. Both connect with the move, leaving Tsonda and Daniels on the ground.
Nick Stuart: They both had the same idea, and now both are knocked down!
Richard Parker: Wait, if they had the same idea, does that mean Chandler Tsonda is part of the Multitudes too? Is she going to assimilate him?
Nick Stuart: What are you talking about?
Richard Parker: I don’t like the handsome cocky prick, but I don’t want him getting absorbed into Anna! Go Chandler! Fight back the Borg!
Anna Daniels and Chandler Tsonda begin to stir, but neither seems ready to get to their feet. Timo Bolamba looks down on both, then begins to make the count.
Nick Stuart: This is when you find out who really wants this, Richard. A spot in the next round on the line, a future shot at the Alias title for Daniels if they win. Each person here needs to dig deep and find something in themselves to pull themselves to victory.
Richard Parker: Luckily for Daniels, they have a lot of someones in themselves, so that will give them the advantage.
Chandler rolls to his stomach, then immediately grabs his neck with one hand and his back with the other. Daniels is on their knees now, head still on the canvas.
Nick Stuart: Tsonda looks gassed now! It’s easy to forget but he’s 47 years old, and sometimes the body doesn’t hold up in grueling matches like this!
Richard Parker: And? Ivan is a hundred years old and is our Universal Champion! Age is just a number, tough it out model boy!
Finally, both wrestlers start to move a little. Tsonda grabs the ropes and tugs on them, trying to get to his feet. Daniels gets their feet under them and starts to stand slowly.
Timo calls off the count as Daniels stands up, working out their neck, and Tsonda leans against the ropes, staring at Daniels. Both of them share a look and nod. The fans pick up on this mutual respect and begin to cheer.
Nick Stuart: These two have given everything so far! Both need this victory! And here we are, everything on the line! Let’s go!
Again the two approach each other, albeit this time much slower. Daniels is the first to get their hands up, and those hands go directly into Tsonda’s face. Two quick punches stagger him, and a third cause him to stumble back. His back is to them, and The Muse walks towards him, and folks, this is where the fun stuff happens.
Nick Stuart: Daniels has Tsonda from behind, looking for the Blue Tardis Bomb! He’s lifted up…no! He flips and lands behind Daniels! Daniels turns around to a boot from Tsonda, and now he’s lifting them up…is this the Narcissist’s Noose? No!
Richard Parker: Holy quick counters, Batman!
Nick Stuart: Daniels slips free! They sweep Tsonda down! Tsonda trying to get up, but Daniels is there! They’re looking for the curb stomp–NO!
Tsonda stands up and elbows Daniels, then grabs their head and runs to the turnbuckle.
Nick Stuart: Tsonda has Daniels! This looks like the Runway Vault! He runs up the turnbuckle – WOAH!
Nick Stuart: Daniels just used Tsonda’s momentum to send him crashing into the ring! He’s down and he looks hurt! And Daniels looks ready to deliver the punt heard round the world!
After all that countering and an actual move being landed (thrown?), Daniels sizes up the Model Citizen as he tries to get to his feet. They gear back and deliver the Brazilian kick that has laid waste to many an opponent.
Nick Stuart: Here it comes! Interroban–NO!
Richard Parker: More like Inter-NO-bang, am I right?
Nick Stuart: Not now, Richard! Tsonda delivers another kick, and he’s going for the Runway Vault again!
If you were a blind man, you’d hear the same noise you heard before:
And you would think the same result happened. That Daniels tossed Tsonda in the ring again. But instead, you hear a little extra cheer behind it, and if you really needed more clue, here comes Nick to explain.
Nick Stuart: HE HIT IT! RUNWAY VAULT! He’s got some energy now, he leaps to the top…THE MODEL CITIZEN! HE CONNECTS! TIMO IS DOWN FOR THE PINFALL!
DING DING DING!
Vince Howard: Your winner, and moving on in the Almasy Tournament…CHAAAAANDLEEERRRRR TSSOOOOOOOOOONDA!
Nick Stuart: Well, Anna Daniels was game tonight, and really took it to The Model Citizen, but the former Universal Champion gave it everything he had to come out on top.
Richard Parker: Very impressive for Tsonda to win what was essentially a 1000 vs 1 handicap match.
Nick Stuart: (sighing) Let’s go backstage.
HATS OFF TO YA
Once again, we’re in a hallway somewhere backstage.
Once again, there’s a door.
It’s an ordinary door. Metal, of some sort. It’s painted blue. It has one of those stainless steel foot guards running along the bottom so that it doesn’t get scuffed by ruffians. Judging by its orientation, it opens inwards. It’s nothing special, as far as doors go. Boring. The type of door you walk by each and every day.
Except there’s a large, horned steer skull hung in the center of it.
And beneath that steer skull? Well, there’s a sign. It’s wood carved, hung with twine, probably bought custom made from Etsy. It says:
THE DIAMOND MINE
A HONKY TONK SALOON
FOR HONKY TONK HUNKS AND HONEYS
NO TROYS ALLOWED
Really says it all, doesn’t it? The door swings open as the cameraman approaches and… it doesn’t look half bad. This time around, there’s an actual bar cart tucked in the corner, stocked with liquors; mostly whiskey, but also a couple bottles of wine (you know, for the womenfolk). There’s a jukebox in the other corner, Hank Williams singing a song to ease the pain. There’s a bear skin rug on the floor and a chandelier made of deer antlers hanging from the ceiling. A poker table, a neon sign advertising Michelob Ultra, and even a cardboard cutout of America’s sweetheart, Alan Jackson.
And there amongst it all, nodded off on a beat-up couch that’s most likely been dragged from the dumpsters behind the arena… is Daytona Diamonds.
The Ol’ Rhinestone Cowboy ain’t lookin’ so hot. He’s battered. He’s bruised. He’s bloody. Various parts of his body are bandaged after his war with Kaz Troy. There’s even KT tape all over his shoulder, running down his bicep. He looks absolutely spent, slumped over and snoring on that decrepit couch, mouth wide open and eyes closed tight. He doesn’t even notice the cameramen in the room.
Shakespeare said it best, huh? Innocent sleep. Sleep that soothes away all our worries. Sleep that puts each day to rest. Sleep that relieves the weary laborer and heals hurt minds.
Or, more succinctly, Daytona is fucking tired, so he’s taking a nap on the job.
No one would possibly bother him.
Except, of course, whoever’s decided to pinch his nostrils shut
Daytona splutters awake and falls off the couch onto the cold, unforgiving floor. This sends a new wave of pain shooting through his body, and he groans loudly while trying to get to his feet.
Daytona Diamonds: WHAT IN TARNATI–
After the Rhinestone Cowboy finds his bearings, he sees a young woman of average height standing in front of him. Her purple and pink hair is shoulder-length, styled in a ponytail with side bangs. Ear, brow, and lip piercings complement her features. Her toned arms are folded over the front of her shredded Vae Victis tank top and her dark brown eyes stare daggers through Daytona.
Ami Troy: Nice digs, dickhead.
Daytona Diamonds: Oh, for fucks sake…
Exasperated, Daytona pulls himself back to his feet, a pained expression on his face as every muscle aches at the slightest amount of movement. He uses the couch to hoist himself up until he’s standing on two baby deer legs, wobbling for a moment before he finds his balance.
He looks, as I’m sure you can imagine, hella annoyed.
Daytona Diamonds: No. Nope! I ain’t doin’ this whole song n’ dance all over ‘gain with another one of you crotch goblins. Nuh-uh. No way. Ain’t you read the sign, honey? You ain’t welcome here. Go on. Get. Lemme lick my god dang wounds in peace.
The Queen’s daughter snerks at that last word.
Ami Troy: You’re dumber than you look, Dumbtona, and you already look like Tom Waits’ sleep paralysis demon. You want peace? You shouldn’t have messed with my brother.
Her eyes narrow as she points a finger in his direction.
Ami Troy: Now you have to answer to me.
For a moment, Daytona just stares. His nostrils flare. His upper lip snarls. There’s a crinkle between his eyes… and then those eyes roll as he throws up his hands, shrugging his shoulders in unison.
Daytona Diamonds: Alright. Fine. I’m answerin’. We tradin’ barbs? That’s how this is gonna go, right? You insult me, I insult you, and then we get to fightin’. Right? Okay. Your face looks like a god dang pin cushion, your dye job looks like a thirteen year old goth kid’s wet dream, and you can Vae Victeez nuts. There. You happy? We done now?
Ami grins vindictively. She’s not even close to being done.
Ami Troy: Your hat. looks. stupid.
Daytona’s eyes go wide.
Daytona Diamonds: …you take that back. Now.
Ami Troy: (still grinning) Make me.
Here we go again. History, as they like to say, repeats itself. Daytona’s hands ball into fists. That snarl gets snarlier. Violent thoughts go swirling through his mind’s eye, each one more violent than the last, and he’s just about to put a hurtin’ on another Troy…
…until he plops back down on the couch instead, shaking his head.
Daytona Diamonds: Nope. Been down that doggone road once already, little lady. Ain’t doin’ it again. You ain’t gettin’ a rise outta me, even if’n you insult my hat. Go tell your mama you wanna wrassle that mean ol’ Daytona Diamonds and maybe she’ll be dumb enough to book it. Til then, I ain’t makin’ you do jack fuckin’ shit. Had ’bout enough of you shit stirrin’ Troys…
Eyes closed. Arms crossed. For once, whether out of learned mistakes or post-match exhaustion, Daytona decides to take the high road, ignoring Ami and trying to get back to sleeping.
But his hat…
Well, his hat is still just sitting there, right next to him on the couch.
See how it twinkles with rhinestones?
See that embroidery, the letters D and D stitched across the front in cursive?
See the way it’s not on his head?
Well. With Daytona’s eyes closed, there’s no one to keep watch on that hat, now is there? Just the hat, Ami Troy, and a cardboard cutout of Alan Jackson, but he ain’t doing shit because like most things cardboard in PRIME, he’s completely useless.
Ami deftly reaches over and plucks Daytona’s hat from the couch. She turns the gaudy head accessory over in her hands, then swats the Rhinestone Cowboy across the face with it and dashes out of the room.
Daytona is jarred awake yet again and catches the brim of his hat making its way around the door jamb.
Daytona Diamonds: Goddang lil’…
He jolts to his feet, cries out in agony, and takes off after the little mischief maker. While it might all be fun and games to Ami, Daytona looks like a raging bull, face gone red as he stumble-runs on two tired legs through the back halls of the KFC Yum! Center.
Daytona Diamonds: C’mon now! Get back here with my god dang hat! I spent a lotta money on that! God dang it, you thieven’ little shit!
It’s almost sad. Daytona barrelling by workers and pushing them out of the way, narrowly avoiding running into equipment boxes, ducking and dodging on aching feet in hot pursuit. You ever see the end of The Shining where Jack Nicholson is chasing after his son through the hedge maze? Yeah, it’s a lot like that, minus the ax.
…until Daytona passes by one of those ‘break glass in case of emergency‘ boxes with a fire extinguisher and an ax in it.
This being an emergency as far as he’s concerned, Daytona breaks the glass, obviously.
He grabs the ax, obviously.
He continues the chase, obviously.
Daytona Diamonds: AMMMMMIIIIII!
Ami skids around a corner just as alarms start blaring and the sprinklers in the hallway turn on. Angry shouts and surprised shrieks are heard from all corners of backstage as various wrestlers pour out of locker rooms and workers dash through the halls to avoid getting soaked.
Except for Daytona. He keeps going.
He eventually rounds the same corner as Ami, but since he’s on jelly legs he wipes out on the floor and loses his grip on the ax in the process. It slides down the hall and comes to rest against a production crate, where it’s picked up by the last person Daytona Diamonds wants to see tonight.
Lindsay Troy stalks to where the Rhinestone Cowboy is groaning in pain and taps the ax against his boot.
Lindsay Troy: You are in a world of shit.
Suddenly, the alarms turn off, as do the sprinklers. Daytona looks at the ax tapping his boot and then up to Lindsay before letting out a long, drawn out sigh. As he pulls himself back to his feet by grabbing hold of one of the production crates, he’s nodding his head.
Daytona Diamonds: Yep. Alright. I get it. I got carried away. That’s on me. Whoopsie daisy, huh? Reckon I’ll just be… moseyin’ back to The Diamond Mine. Yep. Good seein’ ya, boss. Tell your daughter she’s a real… a real… a real gem.
This is the part where Daytona would tip his hat, if he had a hat to tip.
But he doesn’t.
So, instead, The Rhinestone Cowboy simply points a finger gun at Lindsay Troy, makes a half-hearted ‘pew pew’ noise, and turns to try to walk away.
Lindsay Troy: Not so fast, cowboy.
She clamps her hand on the back of his neck and grabs his jacket.
Lindsay Troy: You and I are overdue for a chat, don’t you think?
With no means of escape, and no energy left in him to fight, Daytona lets himself be hauled off to the Principal’s Office as we cut to commercial.
COMMERCIAL: REVIVAL 38
THE ANGLO LUCHADOR VS. CECILWORTH FARTHINGTON
Nick Stuart: And we’re here for our main event of the evening.
Richard Parker: THE FARTHINGTON MATCH!
Nick Stuart: Our last match of the first round, and a bounty match for the Five Star Championship.
The arena darkens before bursting with a flash of light with the intro to “Cynic” By Local H. The PRIMEView plays a montage of The Luchador hitting various flips, arm drags, and ranas before Scott Lucas’ first guttural “HEY!” hits on the song. At that moment, The Anglo Luchador steps out from the back, looking around at the fans cheering for him before going to one knee, his left fist on the ground. He waits a beat and then pops to his feet, cocking his right fist in the process.
Nick Stuart: TAL’s adopted nephew Garry ‘Ray-Ray’ Bolamba got some revenge for him against KING two weeks ago….
Richard Parker: His name is the Generalissimo.
Nick Stuart: The Generalissimo picked up a big win for the Bolamba clan, and I don’t think KING are going to be done with TAL just because David Noble got the shit slapped out of him.
Vince Howard: Hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he stands six feet and weighs in at two-hundred and eleven pounds… The AAAAAAAAAAAAAANGLO LUUUUUUUUUUUUUCHADOR!
He strolls to the ring slapping outstretched fans’ hands before sliding into the ring. He pops to his feet, nods to Vince Howard, and waits in the corner for his opponent if introduced first, or turns around to look at them to ward off a sneak attack if he’s second.
Vince Howard: And his opponent…
The arena slowly begins to darken, as the opening moments of “Choke” by I Don’t Know How But They Found Me begin to slowly reverberate. As the riff reaches it’s peak, the whole crowd is awakened with bright lights shining down upon them as out from backstage steps Lord Cecilworth Farthington.
Vince Howard: Hailing from Buckinghamshire, England, he also stands at six foot, and weighs in at one-hundred eighty-seven pounds… He’s your Five Star Champion, the Financier of The Glueminati… CEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECILWORTH FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARTHINGTON!
Richard Parker: I love this so much.
Nick Stuart: We know.
Richard Parker: I’m going as him for Halloween…
The camera quickly zooms into the self-assured smile that’s cracked upon the face of The Fiancier as he swaggers down to the right, both arms inserted into the pockets of a plain black hoodie. The jovial face of Farthington doesn’t change his purposeful march to the ring, his shoulders swaying to the tune of “Choke”.
Nick Stuart: I think he needs a restraining order against you…
Richard Parker: We’re best friends Nick, Jeez.
His hands never leave the pockets as he slowly rolls under the bottom rope and leaps up into the ring. He slowly raises his left arm up into the sky and gives the crowd a cheeky little wave as he takes his place resting against the ring corner.
Nick Stuart: Ashley Barlow quickly checking both of them over.
Farthington gets patted down and he hands the Five Star Championship over to Ashley. She passes it off to Vince Howard and calls for the bell.
Nick Stuart: And we’re off, the main event of ReVival 37, Farthington vs The Anglo Luchador, the winner goes onto fight Brandon Youngblood in the second round of the Almasy…
Richard Parker: Sounds like a real prize… Did you see what he did to that big blob of a human being earlier?
Nick Stuart: Yes Nick, we all saw what he did to the blob.
Farthington and The Anglo Luchador feel each other out by pacing around the outside of the ring. The Anglo Luchador gets low and comes towards Farthington with his arms outstretched looking to fight off the Five Star Champion. Farthington meets him at the same height and the two collapse forward into one another. Their hands come together and a test of strength ensues, Farthington gets lower and tries to life The Anglo Luchador, but TAL postures up onto his tip toes and presses down as hard as he can. Farthington takes the opportunity to step his leg over TAL’s right arm and breaks the test of strength grip and slides down grabbing TAL around the thigh. The Luchador tries to spin forward but Farthington keeps control of the left arm.
Nick Stuart: Fantastic grappling to start the match here.
Richard Parker: The graps are always fantastic when Lord Farthington is in there.
Nick Stuart: You aren’t wrong, but The Anglo Luchador is no slouch.
Richard Parker: sigh The Anglo Luchador can wrestle. You are not wrong.
The Son of Shogun reaches down and grabs at Farthington’s wrist. The Financier tries to push inwards on The Anglo Luchador’s knee, but TAL steps forward and yanks Farthington forward with him. The Luchador swings a wicked lariat at Farthington but The Financier of the Glue Factory slips under and behind The Anglo Luchador. Like lightning he lets go of the wrist and tries to wrap his nimble limbs around TAL’s neck. PRIME’s eldest Luchador (only because nobody really knows how old the Enemigos are) immediately grabs at Farthington’s hands frantically. Before Farthington can send TAL to the dream realm he manages to rip the hold away and spins around. The two clash together once again, resuming their test of strength.
Richard Parker: That’s how dangerous Lord Farthington is, this match could have been over in an instant. BANG! Just like that, see ya later, goodnight.
Nick Stuart: It sure can, but The Anglo Luchador wasn’t going to let anything like that happen to him that early.
Richard Parker: I don’t think anyone in professional wrestling has ever let their opponent choke them out Nick. That’s just something that happens on OnlyFans.
Nick Stuart: Dammit.
Another test of strength, the two men maneuver through it, this time with TAL trying to take the leverage position, but Farthington is quick with a step over counter. TAL goes right back to the hand, specifically the free wrist of Farthington. Farthington tries to pull away, but TAL slides the other direction, keeping control and moving inwards. He crosses Farthington’s arms, and slips an elbow onto Farthington’s mouth, he keeps both arms wrapped and ducks down pulling Farthington up onto his shoulders, with his hands still holding both arms. Farthington manages to push off of TAL’s shoulders and slide down behind him. The grappliest grappler of them all slides behind TAL.
Nick Stuart: He had him up there Richard, that was almost it.
Richard Parker: I GET IT. HE IS A DANGEROUS WRESTLER.
Nick Stuart: But Farthington back behind…
TAL explodes forward and runs up the turnbuckles like they are a flight of stairs. He bounds from the bottom rope to the top rope, the two still bound by the test of strength grip, TAL leaps off of the top rope backwards and lifts his knees, Farthington is finally forced to let go as TAL descends to the canvas. The Anglo Luchador spins Farthington around and fires off a right jab.
Nick Stuart: Right jab from the Luchador, the only successful offense tonight.
Farthington reels backwards and TAL fires off another.
Richard Parker: He knows he can’t beat him wrestling, so he’s gotta resort to this. Classic Anglo Luchador.
This one is followed by a left jab, and a vicious right cross that sends Lord Farthington stumbling/falling into the corner. The Anglo Luchador winds up and rips off a vicious chop to Farthington’s chest, then another one, and another. TAL walks to the far corner, and comes flying into the corner looking for a back elbow but Farthington moves out of the way and TAL crashes into the corner. Farthington stumbles down the ropes holding his chest from TAL’s last onslaught.
Nick Stuart: TAL is really setting a pace here.
Richard Parker: Farthington has all of the stamina in the world.
The Anglo Luchador stumbles out of the corner and Farthington turns around into a half power clothesline that flips Farthington up and over the top rope to the apron. TAL takes a few steps back, and as Farthington is getting to his feet TAL runs forward and low dropkicks Farthington’s knees out from under him, sending him off the apron and down to the floor on his back.
Nick Stuart: Great dropkick by TAL.
Richard Parker: Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.
The Luchador stands at the ropes looking over as Ashley Barlow heads over to start to count. Before she can get started, TAL takes off at a dead sprint for the far ropes. He bounces off and gaining more speed. He looks for Farthington and is able to time it perfectly as he leaps over the ropes like a missile. He connects with Farthington, Cecilworth stumbles backwards into the barricade right in front of Ivan and TAL lands in a heap on the outside. Ivan smirks as he stares down at the two.
Nick Stuart: TAL wants this one bad.
TAL is right back up to his feet and grabs Cecilworth by the back of the head and rolls him into the ring under the bottom rope. He jumps up to the apron and sprints over and up to the top rope. The second he gets to the top, he leaps off. Farthington sticks his foot up, and TAL’s diving elbow drop is effectively countered by the boot of Cecilworth. TAL crashes into Farthington’s boot, and stumbles his way back across the ring. Cecilworth pulls himself over to the ropes and yanks himself up to his feet. He comes across the ring at the still staggered Luchador and smashes him with a european uppercut, then another. Farthington grabs TAL by the arm and sends him crashing chest first into the corner.
Richard Parker: HERE WE GO! T-TEN MILLION FARTHINGTON!
Before TAL can even fall over, Farthington comes across the ring and drives a vicious knee into TAL’s kidney. The Luchador stumbles into the corner and Farthington delivers a swift kick to The Anglo Luchador’s midsection which slumps TAL. He effectively stomps a mudhole in TAL’s chest (no Steveweiser required) and storms across the ring. Farthington comes roaring in foot first, but TAL manages to slide out of the way through the middle rope as Farthington’s foot smashes into the turnbuckle. TAL slides around behind a tangled Farthington and rolls him up as Ashley Barlow slides in for the count.
Richard Parker: NO!
Farthington grabs the arm in the roll up and manages to roll himself backwards onto his stomach, but he never lets go of TAL’s arm and flips him all the way over, Farthington tries to lock in an armbar, but The Anglo Luchador manages to reach his toes out and touch the ropes. Barlow jumps up from the pin attempt and instructs Farthington to let go, but Farthington yanks back even harder.
Nick Stuart: We’ve seen this from Farthington, and from Atken. They both don’t like letting go.
Barlow starts to count and manages to make it to three before Farthington lets go. Cecilworth grins at her and holds up two fingers, you can faintly here him saying “I had two more seconds,” to Barlow as he turns around and yanks TAL away from the ropes. He folds the recently bared arm so that the wrist is flat, and the elbow is up. He stomps on the back of the bicep, driving TAL’s wrist into the mat.
Richard Parker: THERE WE GO! BREAK HIS ARM!
Nick Stuart: He’s very likely to do it with a move like that.
Richard Parker: Really hard to roll a guy up with one arm, can’t even get a good grip on the tights.
Nick Stuart: You aren’t supposed to grab the tights…
Richard Parker: Oh…
Farthington is right back to the arm, and sets it up again.
Cecilworth Farthington: Try to roll me up like I’m one of these other people.
Another vicious stomp, TAL grabs his arm and cries out but Farthington either doesn’t care, or is actually a terminator and rips TAL’s left arm back down and sets it up again. Farthington this time goes to use the ropes as leverage to fling himself downwards, and this time the Anglo Luchador manages to get himself out of the way by rolling out to the apron.
Richard Parker: Farthington almost did all three rice krispies noises to TAL’s arm there.
Nick Stuart: You’re telling me, there was some serious menace intended with that shot.
Farthington reaches down in between the ropes and uses TAL’s left arm to try to yank him up to his feet. As he pulls on it, TAL manages to back Farthington off with a right hand. TAL gets to his feet and Farthington comes back in again, but TAL fires a standing right jab this time that is enough to send Farthington stumbling backwards. The son of shogun climbs from the second rope and leaps off the top rope in one fluid motion, and manages to land on Farthington’s shoulders, whipping him around to the canvas with a hurricanrana.
Richard Parker: Oh no!
Nick Stuart: BIG HURRICANRANA FROM TAL! CAN HE FOLLOW IT UP!?
The Luchador is right back to his feet, he keeps his left arm tightly against his side as he half yanks and Farthington half stumbles to his feet. TAL hits a knee to the face as Farthington is on his way up, and the Luchador doesn’t stop there. He fires a right jab, and without the left jab available, he throws an overhand right instead of the right cross. It connects and sends Farthington sprawling to the canvas.
Richard Parker: NO! NO! NO!
Nick Stuart: HE GOT ALL OF IT! ONE ARMED! THE ANGLO LUCHADOR GOT ALL OF IT!
TAL falls down on top of Farthington and hooks a leg, while hooking his leg around Farthington’s other leg.
Richard Parker: I almost died.
Nick Stuart: Farthington kicks out, and TAL is right back to his feet.
The Anglo Luchador reaches down and grabs Cecilworth by the hair, TAL reaches back and fires a knife-edge chop into the groggy Farthington’s chest, and follows it up with another. Then another, finally driving Farthington into the corner. TAL wraps his good arm around Farthington and hoists him up onto the top rope. He steps up onto the middle rope, and throws Farthington to the ground from the top rope, all the way down to the canvas with a super-rana.
Nick Stuart: SUPER RANA!
Richard Parker: C’MON CECILWORTH!
TAL flops over on Farthington.
TAL manages to get the leg hooked.
Richard Parker: I saw the light, Hoyt was there, he was hanging out with Nova. I saw it all.
Nick Stuart: Another kickout by Farthington! What does The Anglo Luchador have to do!
TAL gets to his feet, he tries to use his left arm but grimaces in pain as he outstretches it. He flexes his hand a few times while holding his wrist, finally satisfied he brings Farthington up to his feet.
Nick Stuart: This is it.
Richard Parker: Lord wrestling Hoyt. Please help Cecilworth Farthington in his moment of need and stop this miserable luchador man from winning a match…
Nick Stuart: He’s praying… Get yourself together Richard.
TAL reaches down and grabs Lord Farthington by the front of the shorts and drags him up to his feet. He slides behind Farthington and grits his teeth as he reaches and grabs both of Farthington’s arms. He slips underneath Farthington and once again puts him up on his shoulders, but Farthington is able to yank TAL’s left arm and wrench on it.
Richard Parker: OW!
Nick Stuart: Farthington’s in a precarious position though, this is dangerous, very dangerous. He’s got that arm but he’s on TAL’s shoulders.
TAL begins to stumble and Farthington’s right arm becomes free, the second he can, he grabs TAL’s arm and falls, he hooks his legs around TAL’s upper body and yanks on the left arm of The Anglo Luchador.
Nick Stuart: What a counter! What a counter!
Richard Parker: I BELIEVE IN YOU HOYT! I BELIEVE!
Farthington has the elbow hyperextended, the shoulder blade is as far back as it can go, and at the wrist he has TAL’s hand folded awkwardly over on itself. Barlow asks TAL if he gives up and he shakes his head no, shouting out in pain.
Richard Parker: HE’LL BREAK IT! GIVE UP!
Nick Stuart: He won’t. The Anglo Luchador can’t give up. He has to fight.
TAL lets out a scream of pain and collapses down to his knees, Farthington keeps yanking on the arm bar.
Richard Parker: TAP! JUST TAP!
TAL shakes his head no again, and brings himself up to one knee, and then back to his feet. He reaches down with his free arm, grabbing himself by the forearm and yanking Farthington up into the air, temporarily taking the pressure off of the elbow, he lets out another shout as he grabs his own hand and curls Farthington up!
Nick Stuart: HE’S GOING TO POWERBOMB HIM!
Richard Parker: NOOOO—YEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSS!
Farthington slips off of TAL’s arm and down behind to his back. A simple rotation of position, and Farthington’s arms immediately find their way to the Anglo Luchador’s neck. In a flash, The Anglo Luchador is trapped.
Richard Parker: IT’S A TARP!
TAL flails his right arm, and he drops to his knees almost immediately. Farthington wraps the body triangle overtop of TAL’s arms, and pins them to his midsection as they fall over onto their sides, Farthington still choking TAL.
DING DING DING
Nick Stuart: Barlow called for the bell.
Richard Parker: Thank Hoyt for that too, someone had to stop that idiot from dying in there.
Nick Stuart: He was courageous tonight Richard, he fought a hell of a fight against the Five Star Champion.
Richard Parker: Yes he did, yes he did.
Farthington lets go and collapses to his side as the bell rings. “Choke” begins playing over the arena’s sound system as Vince Howard steps into the ring with the Five Star Championship. He hands it to Farthington.
Vince Howard: And your winner by referee’s stoppage…THE FIVE STAR CHAMPION CECILWORTH FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARTHINGTON!
Nick Stuart: What an encounter this evening, Brandon Youngblood and Cecilworth Farthington, ReVival 38!
Richard Parker: How do I handle this?
Nick Stuart: That’s all for Round 1 of the Almasy!
Richard and Nick keep their chit chatting up, as Farthington gets to his knees. The camera zooms in on his face, he spits a mouth full of blood onto the mat and smiles into the camera.