COLD OPEN AT BERNIE’S
The MGM Grand sits eerily empty. Working crews have prepared all the light shows and pyrotechnics. Music is queued, microphone connections double and triple checked. Buffet lines are stocked for the night, with extra for Bobby Dean’s belly and Rezin’s trash bag. The PRIME*View is ready. The ropes are ready. The MGM Grand Garden Arena is ready.
It will soon belong to 16,000 strong, but right now, in this quiet moment before the storm, it belongs to Hayes Hanlon.
The young Five Star Champion ambles his way slowly down the entrance ramp, his belt slung over shoulder. The Garden is dark, save a few dimmed overhead lights to provide enough glow to see. Hanlon’s steps echo through the arena as he approaches the ring, climbing the steps and through the ropes. He takes a slow lap, meeting all corners, peering out into empty seats before walking to center ring and lying down on his back, lacing his fingers across his chest and closing his eyes with a deep breath.
Hayes enjoys a few moments of quiet, but his meditations are quickly interrupted by the duo of Garbage Bag Johnny and Nova, who burst into the arena from opposite entrances and sprint to meet each other at ringside. Hayes lurches at the explosion of motion, bracing himself more upright on his elbows.
GBJ: Where’s Future You?
Nova: He’s going up to the hotel room to check on Future You. You moved him, right?
GBJ: Yeah. Got him right here.
Garbage Bag Johnny lifts up the apron and pulls out the still clothed corpse of Future GBJ.
Hayes Hanlon: You know, I used to watch you guys do some pretty weird shit when I was a kid, but this is…concerning.
Nova and Johnny breathe a sigh of relief when they see that while their conversation wasn’t as private as they thought, it’s Hayes, and not Future Nova or the cops.
GBJ: Look, man. I don’t know what happened. I woke up and found him like this, and nobody knows but Nova, me, and well, now you.
Nova: Future Nova almost found out when we came back to the room, but Johnny shouted something out about tag teaming Muriel, and that was enough to get us to backtrack. So he doesn’t know yet, but he’s getting suspicious, and if he finds out, we don’t know what’s going to happen.
Hayes Hanlon: I have so many questions…
Hayes sits up further, leaning back on his hands, and taking stock of The Risen Star, The Bag Man, and the dead doppelganger in front of him.
Hayes Hanlon: Nevermind. No I don’t.
GBJ: Anyway, how’s your sex life?
Hayes Hanlon: Clearly not as good as yours.
Hayes trails off, leaving the three in the silence of the dark arena.
Nova: What are you doing out here, kid?
Hayes Hanlon: Just…hiding for a minute.
Hanlon breathes deep into his chest.
Hayes Hanlon: How’d you guys do it?
GBJ and Nova exchange a confused glance.
GBJ: How’d we do what?
Hayes Hanlon: (turning his chin toward his belt) This, man. Holding it, defending it. The whole thing. It all hit me pretty fast.
Nova: Oh. THAT.
The Risen Star rolls into the ring, taking a seat on the mat across from The Event Horizon.
Nova: Well, first thing’s first. You’re going to lose that belt eventually. The longer it takes to accept that, the faster that time will come. If you’re wrestling any harder to keep the belt than you would wrestle a normal match, you’re going to lose it to someone who’d wrestle you as hard as they can, title or not. You can keep growing as a wrestler, but the belt’s going to stay the same.
Hayes nods, considering Nova’s deep advice. Johnny slides Future GBJ under the bottom rope, and then climbs into the ring, taking a seat of his own, the three creating a three-pointed star in the middle of the ring (editor’s note: sometimes referred to as a triangle) with Future Johnny’s corpse off to the side.
GBJ: When I won my first title, I was like, “Oh great. I’m going to need much bigger belt loops.” But you can’t just go to Kohl’s and get pants with big enough belt loops, so I had a bunch of new pairs of trousers commissioned with the huge ass belt loops. And then when I lost the title, I had all these pants that looked really stupid with normal belts, and none of the resale shops would even take them back. They’ve just been sitting in the back of my closet.
Johnny sizes up Hanlon’s measurements.
GBJ: If Nova and I don’t win the tag straps, you want them? You look like you could fit into a 36 waist.
Hayes Hanlon: (laughing softly) I’ll keep that in mind.
A bit of silence. Johnny sparks up a joint pulled from his robe, taking a rip before handing it over to Nova. Hayes looks up from his belt to the two veterans.
Hayes Hanlon: It’s just a lot, y’know?
Nova: (exhaling a cloud of smoke) And if you wanna stay in that race, it always will be.
GBJ: You’re doing great, though, kid. You’ve already held that strap longer than I did, so you won’t go down as the worst Five Star Champion in PRIME history.
Hayes Hanlon: Thanks, but don’t sell yourself short. There’s more than a handful that dropped it quicker than you.
GBJ: I find that hard to believe.
Hayes Hanlon: (counting on his fingers) Jason Snow, 24 days. Jonathan Winters, 18 days. Killean Sirrajin, 31 days. Tony Gamble, 16 days. Brandon Youngblood, 24 days…
At the sound of Youngblood’s name, GBJ starts sweating and focuses on Future GBJ’s corpse. Perhaps it’s daunting to be in the ring with an aged, deceased version of yourself, but Garbage Bag Johnny’s look portrays something deeper…like the ghost of dead GBJ is communicating to him. “You had the belt for twice as long as Youngblood! They never let you use your Golden Ticket!” Johnny shakes his head and refocuses on the conversation, noting that Hanlon has finally wrapped up his list.
Hayes Hanlon: …Mark Blaze, 48 days. Aaannndd….Zyfloi. 46 days.
Nova: Okay, nerd, we get the point.
Hayes Hanlon: Sorry.
GBJ: And if I held the title longer than all those guys, then so have you! Look at what all those guys have gone on to do since then.
Hayes Hanlon: That’s what’s in my head more than the number of days or whatever. I know these things don’t last forever, but if I drop the belt tonight, or even at Great American Nightmare, what if that’s it? I don’t wanna be a flash in the pan.
The Dirtiest Dude in PRIME tilts his head over toward the Starchild.
GBJ: Take a look at that guy.
Nova shrugs with a small smile, a humble gesture from the man who would eventually become Universal Champion after his first Five Star title reign. Hayes nods with a grin behind his mustache.
Hayes Hanlon: Yeah, that’s fair.
Nova: The belt is just a belt, kid. But you’re the Event Horizon. That shouldn’t change, no matter what title you’re holding.
Hayes Hanlon: Thanks, guys.
“AH! THERE YOU GUYS ARE!”
GBJ and Nova immediately react to the voice of Future Nova as he appears at the top of the ramp. Luckily, he’s old and slow, which gives Johnny time to toss Future GBJ’s body over to Hayes Hanlon. Hayes catches him out of surprise and it takes a second for him to realize what he’s holding.
Hayes Hanlon: What…what the FUCK!
GBJ: (whispering) Ssssh! Think fast, champ. Remember that Future Nova thinks everything’s fine!
Future Nova continues to hobble down the ramp.
Future Nova: What the heck are you guys doing down in the ring?
GBJ: Oh, uh, Future Me was just showing me some moves I guess I came up with later in my career. Isn’t that right?
As regular Nova tries to keep his cool, GBJ gestures encouragingly towards Hanlon, who is still holding Future GBJ in front of him as to not be seen. He clears his throat.
GBJ: Isn’t. That. Right?
Hayes, barely holding it together, digs deep within himself to keep his cool. After a frantic moment, he grabs Future GBJ’s stiff, dead hand and manipulates the fingers into a “thumbs up” position, then lifts the hand into the air while he hides behind the corpse. Future Nova grins widely and offers a thumbs up right back.
Future Nova: That sounds swell. Say Nova, how about you put your learning cap on, and we’ll show you two some tag maneuvers you’ll eventually invent?
Nova: I, uh, don’t want to…
Future Nova: Nonsense, it’ll be fun.
Future Nova rolls his old ass into the ring and uses the ropes to lift himself up back to his feet.
Future Nova: We call this one the Ultimate Depants Combo. Now…Future GBJ and I will face each other from across the ring like so. Nova, you come grapple with me, and GBJ, you grapple with Future GBJ. We’ll both duck under the grapples, pants you from the front, and when you bend over to pick your pants up, Future GBJ and I will grab you by the heads and spin you clockwise so you knock heads in the middle of the ring. Let’s give it a shot.
Nova: I don’t think that’s a good idea. We’re going to need these noggins for the Survivor maze tonight.
Nova steps in front of Future Nova and turns him slightly away from Future Johnny’s eyeline. Hayes shifts behind Future GBJ’s limp body, gritting his teeth and holding his breath.
Nova: In fact, shouldn’t we go back to the room and practice being blindfolded and reading braille a little more before that Final Four party we have this invite for?
Nova pulls the invite out of his pocket, thus successfully setting up precedent for a later segment.
Future Nova: I guess that’s a good point. Especially with all these cataracts.
With that, Nova ushers Future Nova out of the ring and back up towards the ramp.
GBJ: We’re right behind you. We’ll catch up. I just want to learn one more move.
GBJ starts waving from within the ring before nudging Hayes in the side, prompting Hayes to wave Future GBJ’s arm. Once the pair of Novas exits the arena, GBJ nods a thank you to Hayes Hanlon as he takes Future GBJ back.
GBJ: I owe you one, kid. And go show ‘em why you’re the champ and they’re just challengers tonight.
Hayes Hanlon: Yeah, uh…anytime.
He shakes his hands and fingertips uncomfortably in an attempt to rid himself of dead-guy gunk before turning a sincere smile to The Bag Man.
Hays Hanlon: And thanks.
Johnny then clambers out of the ring with his future version’s corpse, taking the reigns behind to Bernie-it up the ramp at a safe distance behind the Novas. Hayes watches them leave, then lies back down on the mat with a heavy exhale.
Hayes Hanlon: (to himself) This place is so fucking weird…
DUSK vs. PETE WHEALDON vs. GREAT SCOTT
Pyro, fanfare, and a sweeping camera shot of the MGM Grand Garden Arena. You want signs? Cuz we got ‘em!
I’M ONLY HERE TO SEE BROCK NEWBLUDD FLEX
I HOPE MIKEY UNLIKELY GETS AN ITCHY SPOT IN THE MIDDLE OF HIS BACK THAT HE CAN’T REACH
I JOINED THE FRUITSYLVANIAN ARMY TO FIGHT CANADIAN MANNEQUINS
THE LOVE CONVOY RAN OVER MY DOG
DOES GREAT BEAR SHIT IN THE WOODS?
WHAT’S FAR, CAN’T BE SEEN, AND MALIGNANT? THE EGG BANDITS!
THE PERSON BEHIND ME CAN’T SEE, HURR HURR
SKYWARD SWORD HD > OCARINA OF TIME
NEXT SURVIVOR CHALLENGE: GET TAPIOCA LAID
WE WANT A DITCH MATCH
WE WANT THE LOVE CONVOY
THE EAGLES SUCK
THE BAND OR THE FOOTBALL TEAM?
(this sign is a picture of Bret’s chips)
HAPPY eGG DAY!!!!
And then the fans at home are treated to the familiar voices of PRIME’s legendary broadcasting pair.
Nick Stuart: Good evening everyone and welcome to the ReVival! I’m Nick Stuart, and joining me as always is the inimitable Richard Parker!
Richard Parker: Dammit, the show just started. Don’t make me Google words already!
Nick Stuart: We’ve got a tremendous show in store for you tonight.
A match graphic appears on screen, starting first with the competitors in the 3-way tag match scheduled for later this evening.
Nick Stuart: Two weeks ago, Bobby Dean and Doozer knocked 2Become1 off of their post-Survivor win streak. We’ll see if their good fortune continues tonight as they take on both the Saturday Night Specials and the team of Nate Colton and Nathan Filmix!
It gives way to a collection of headshots for the Survivor contests, layered on top of a tropical backdrop. If you’re at all familiar with the reality show it’s drawing inspiration from, then you know the vibe.
Richard Parker: We’ve seen puzzles. We’ve seen boulders and weird food. Tonight we’re going to see if the four teams remaining in Survivor can navigate a maze, and they won’t be seeing anything at all, because I hear from Melvin Beauregard’s office that they’ll all be blindfolded!
As the pair runs down the rest of the card, the image that the fans at home see shifts to correspond.
Nick Stuart: Tapioca Puddings has quite the hurdle to overcome tonight, but he’s got the chance to make a name for himself as he steps into the ring with the number one contender to the Universal Championship when he faces Impulse!
Richard Parker: The Hollywood Bruvs have been given an ultimatum by Lindsay Troy – stay and fight, or leave and never return. We’ll see which one they choose later tonight when they square off against the Dangerous Mix of David Fox and Mushigihara!
Nick Stuart: This one I’m looking forward to. Tonight Anna Daniels will go one-on-one with Rezin, in a match that – and please correct me if I’m using the word wrong – should “slap”, as the kids say.
Richard Parker: Yes, Nick. The “kids” do say that. Maybe you shouldn’t, though.
Nick Stuart: And in our main event Hayes Hanlon defends his Five Star Championship against Alexander Redding and Cecelia Ryan. At ReVival 7 both Hanlon and Redding wrestled to a double-countout, but the addition of Ryan to the mix means that tonight we will have a winner. Will it be the wily Redding, the second-generation star Ryan, or will the Event Horizon’s meteoric rise continue? We’ll find out tonight in the main event!
Richard Parker: Ha! Space jokes. I get it.
Nick Stuart: But first, our opening contest should be quite the clash of styles as Pete Whealdon, GREAT SCOTT, and Dusk are scheduled to compete. Let’s turn it over to Vince Howard for the introductions!
The camera shifts its focus to the ring at the heart of the MGM Grand, as the fans prepare for their first in-ring action of the evening.
Vince Howard: Introducing first… From Los Angeles, California he weighs in tonight at 227 pounds… “MAGNUM” PETE WHEALDON!!!!
Angular guitars and a brick head of a kick drum begin to strobe as Joe Talbot starts ranting about creatine and a bag of Charlie Sheen. The Thumping Bass line of “Never Fight a Man with a Perm” brings Pete Whealdon out from behind the curtain. Hair done up slick, wearing aviator sunglasses, he has his hands in the pockets of his Members only Jacket. He strides down towards the ring, Green kick-padded Boots slamming confidently into the ground.
“Never fight a man with a perm!”
Whealdon slides under the bottom rope as the song starts breaking down into tremolo’d chaos. He moves to his corner and starts removing his excess gear, revealing green floral print tights.
Vince Howard: Introducing next… From the Greater Metro Area of Great Falls, Montana, and weighing in at 276 pounds… accompanied to the ring by GREAT BEAR this is… GREAT SCOTT!!!!
“Born For Greatness” by Papa Roach begins to blast over the speakers, as GREAT SCOTT emerges from behind the curtain carrying a nondescript championship belt over his shoulder. For some reason, Great Scott is over. Like really over. The crowd is going goddamned ballistic, and get even louder as GREAT BEAR steps out behind him, rocking out to some EDM on his sweet Beats By Dre headphones.
GREAT SCOTT and GREAT BEAR make their way down to the ring, where GREAT BEAR starts doing awesome dance moves at ringside. It isn’t entirely clear if this is a real live bear, or a man in a very convincing bear costume, but the crowd is very into all of it.
Anyway, Great Scott climbs up into the ring and goes up on all four ring posts, basking in the adulation of fans and holding up his championship belt.
Silence fills the MGM-Grand Arena before “Death Grip” by Watt White fires up as the PRIME*View comes to life and starts playing the entrance video for “The Lost Soul”… Dusk! The man himself emerges from the backstage area and stands at the top of the ramp, soaking in the cheers from the fans.
Vince Howard: From Los Angeles, California…weighing in at 225lbs, he is DUUUUUSK!
DUSK DUSK DUSK DUSK!
Dusk makes his way down the ramp, high-fiving the fans on his way down, a renewed energy in his eyes as he slides under the bottom rope and bounces off the ropes a few times before he stops in the middle of the ring, a smile on his face. He slams his fists into his legs and abdomen, working to get the blood pumping, and his eyes look as focused as ever, as there is a tiny glimmer of a fire there.
Nick Stuart: There’s the bell, and ReVival 9 is underway!
The three men size each other up for a moment, but as soon as it looks like something might happen, Whealdon hits the mat and rolls out of the ring.
Richard Parker: Whealdon already out of the ring for a smoke break. It’s a sound strategy. Since there are no countouts he can stay out there as long as he wants while these two pummel each other.
Dusk and SCOTT circle, while the crowd breaks into dueling chants.
Let’s go Dusk!
Kick! His! Tits!
Let’s go Dusk!
Kick! His! Tits!
When the two men finally meet in the center of the ring to lock-up, that’s when Whealdon sneaks back in and starts laying into both of them with a series of kicks.
Richard Parker: See? I told you. Sound strategy.
Nick Stuart: Whealdon coming in hot with kicks to the thigh of both GREAT SCOTT and Dusk, trying to chop both men down.
Dusk goes down to one knee, and Whealdon takes the opportunity to press the advantage against GREAT SCOTT. He lunges in, but is caught in a released northern lights suplex. GREAT SCOTT gets back to his feet, and immediately turns into a jumping knee strike from Dusk.
Nick Stuart: A flurry of offense from all three men here early.
Richard Parker: And now Whealdon is on the attack again.
As Dusk lands from his strike, he’s caught by a snap neckbreaker from behind by Whealdon.
Nick Stuart: Dusk down! And now GREAT SCOTT back to his feet, and a thundering forearm shot sends Whealdon through the ropes to the ring apron!
Richard Parker: No one here giving an inch tonight, Nick. You love to see it.
A superkick from Dusk connects, and Whealdon is knocked back off the ring apron. But he doesn’t land on the floor.
Nick Stuart: Pete Whealdon has landed on GREAT BEAR’s shoulders, and I don’t think he realizes it yet!
For his part, GREAT BEAR doesn’t seem to give a shit. He’s locked-in to the groove pumping through his headphones. It takes a few seconds for Whealdon to realize, and then the natural panic that accompanies straddling a live bear sets in.
Nick Stuart: GREAT SCOTT looking to take advantage. He’s building up a head of steam.
GREAT SCOTT charges off the far side ropes, ducks under a clothesline attempt by Dusk, and dives between the ropes on the opposite side of the ring, knocking Whealdon to the floor with a GREAT BEAR-aided tope suicida/Doomsday Device.
Nick Stuart: Devastating move to the outside. SCOTT now getting back into the ring…
Richard Parker: And right into the arms of PRIME’s senior citizen.
Dusk grabs a quick front facelock as GREAT SCOTT slides under the bottom rope, and snaps to the ground with a DDT.
Richard Parker: AARPDDT!
Nick Stuart: Will you stop?
Dusk slides over for the cover, but only manages a 2-count before GREAT SCOTT kicks out.
Dusk tries to transition into a kimura, but GREAT SCOTT is able to counter. He reverses the grip on Dusk’s arm, pulls him in close, and hits a twisting overhead release belly-to-belly suplex. Holy shit that was a lot of adjectives.
Nick Stuart: You know what they say, you can’t keep a GREAT SCOTT down.
Richard Parker: Is that what they say? Who says that exactly?
GREAT SCOTT continues to press the advantage, pulling Dusk up and bringing him back down with a gutwrench suplex. SCOTT keeps his grip locked, rolls through, and connects with another suplex.
Nick Stuart: GREAT SCOTT with a cover of his own!
But it also gets a 2-count before Dusk kicks out.
Outside the ring, Whealdon has started to stir. He pulls himself back to his feet using the ring apron, and slides under the bottom rope. As both Dusk and SCOTT work back to a vertical base, Whealdon rushes in and begins clubbing on both men to try and keep them down.
Richard Parker: Pete Whealdon back with a vengeance.
Nick Stuart: And he’s just laying those shots in on both Dusk and GREAT SCOTT. Whealdon with a waistlock, and a German suplex takes Dusk to the ground!
Richard Parker: At this rate, he’ll be back in that ditch in no time.
Nick Stuart: What are you talking about?
Richard Parker: That’s where dead people go, Nick. I read it on the internet, and we don’t argue with the internet.
Whealdon goes for the cover, but he’s pulled off by GREAT SCOTT after the 1 count, and spun around into an exploder suplex.
Nick Stuart: GREAT SCOTT hammering away on Pete Whealdon. Whealdon fighting back, but right now GREAT SCOTT has the upper hand.
Outside the ring, GREAT BEAR scratches at an imaginary record with his paw.
Nick Stuart: Dusk back to his feet, and he’s joining the fray…
Richard Parker: The ditch will have to wait!
Nick Stuart: Dusk with another one of his trademark superkicks, and GREAT SCOTT ducks!!
Pete Whealdon however, catches it flush on the chin. He staggers back into the corner, held up only by the ropes and turnbuckles.
Nick Stuart: Dusk still wobbly on his feet, and GREAT SCOTT sends him out through the middle ropes!
Richard Parker: Right into a…
Nick Stuart: It’s not a ditch, Richard!!
GREAT SCOTT looks to the crowd. They know what comes next. He hoists Whealdon up to the top rope, then follows him up.
Nick Stuart: SCOTTACANRANA! GREAT SCOTT with the cover! This could do it!
Elvis Nixon is down to make the count.
Richard Parker: Dusk must have found a ladder to pull himself up out of the…
Nick Stuart: I swear to god if you say “ditch” one more time.
Dusk, aware of what’s happening inside the ring, uses the ring apron to help pull himself up quicker.
He lunges between the ropes, diving to break up the count.
DING DING DING
He’s just a hair too late.
Vince Howard: The winner of this match… GREAT SCOTT!!
Nick Stuart: And GREAT SCOTT is your winner in our first match of the night, taking the victory over Pete Whealdon and Dusk.
Richard Parker: If I understand this right, that means he is now the “Impulse” champion, because he pinned a guy named Pete. I wonder how that’s going to work.
“THIRTY DAYS?? You simply cannot be serious!!”
We cut to the drab, dreary office of Mr. Darby. He’s alone at his desk wearing a highlighter-yellow suit, his salt-and-paprika hair clashing horribly, and with a smartphone to his ear.
“No, but hang on, please listen! We’ve made a substantial financial arrangement with Brets Chips, and if we’re completely banished from the Jabber platform for thirty days, we won’t be able to fulfill our end of the contract, and if THAT happens-”
Darby is apparently cut off by the voice on the other line. After a few tense moments, his lips twist and he gives a curt nod.
“……no, I understand why you would-”
“…right, PRIME’s policies and by-laws take precedence over FLAMBERGE’s independent brand deals, we understand that, but there are a few things YOU need to understand! First, it wasn’t FLAMBERGE making all of those hashtag-ad, hashtag-sponsor commercial tweets on behalf of Brets! It wasn’t FLAMBERGE tagging every Jabber post with the newly-released Brets emoji! It was ME! Suspend ME, fine ME, don’t do this to FLAMBERGE, he’s finally getting a foothold in this company! Back to back wins! Besides, he’s already so-”
Darby is apparently cut off once again. His mouth is as contorted as if he has a handful of Lemonheads in his mouth with how twisted and pursed it’s become; his eyes squint before finally closing as he drops his head in defeat.
“Yes. Ok. I understand.”
We hear a faint sound of a dial tone from Darby’s phone and he just drops it to his desk with a clatter. He runs both of his hands through his hair in frustration before grabbing a sticky note off of his computer monitor. The camera pans and we see what is written…
3:30PM – FLAMBERGE MEETING + JABBER APOLOGY
…a previously-fuzzy analog clock on the far wall comes into focus. It’s 3:52PM.
Darby picks his phone back up and cycles through his contacts, selecting one – we see FLAMBERGE’s name appear on the screen, followed by a ring…
A fourth. Robot voicemail prompt.
“…heyyyyy, it’s me again. Checking in, making sure you knew that we’re supposed to be meeting now. No rush! It’s all good! Just…please call back whenever you get this. It’s Darby. Thanks pal!”
Darby hangs up and then shakes his head in disgust as he mouths the word “pal” one more time. He nervously taps his fingers on his desk for a few moments.
ReVival is continuing to rock and/or roll, depending on your current frame of mind. As has so often happened over the past few shows, we find ourselves just outside the concourse entrance to the MGM Grand Arena, at the makeshift Glue Factory stall that is totally legitimate and was approved by Melvin off camera, so take that coppers.
Instead of the long suffering intern of the Glue Factory, Gary, taking up the majority of the establishing shot, we are joined directly by The Humble Proprietor himself, Philip Martin Atken. He is flanked by the Glue Factory Chief of Security, the world famous Hank!
Atken positions himself directly in front of a pyramid of “Civil Dusk” brand crafting glue that sits upon the Glue Factory’s artisanal stall. A rather irritated Atken stares down the full hole of the camera as he begins to speak. For Hank’s part, he has what is either an intense scowl or a lot of abject confusion sitting upon his beautiful face.
Phil Atken: It’s my understanding that Dusk is rather desperate to have a match against me. So desperate, in fact, that he tried to intimate a powerless man who can’t even keep his office clean of unspeakable acts into giving him said match. There may have been a smoke machine involved.
Atken looks rather confused at the very true words escaping his own mouth hole but tries not to let it deter him from the point he’s trying to make.
Phil Atken: Dusk, old buddy, old pal, if you wanted a match with me, you could’ve just asked. You know where my stall is, after all. You found it pretty easily when you tried that sneak attack a few weeks back and sent our poor intern to the hospital. Personally, if I’m proclaiming victimhood, I’m probably not trying to beat the stuffing out of innocent parties but y’know, to each their own.
The thought of Dusk’s heinous and brutal assault causes Hank’s fists to curl up into two massive meaty chunks. I mean, I suppose they were already meaty chunks. Now it’s just more so.
Phil Atken: I am very happy to accept your request. Delighted. Over the moon. Cockahoop. I’d just like you to consider one thing though – your own health. See, as I recall, last time we spent some time in the ring together, it ended with days of migraines and litres of vomit for you. I’m sure you would hold the big man here responsible for that outcome, he is a rather intimidating presence. Perhaps you believe that if you neutralise him, you can “get your hands” on me. Remove my monster from the equation with that little pipe of yours…
Atken gently pants his chief of security on the shoulder as he chuckles to himself.
Phil Atken: I hate to correct someone running head first into a trap but did you stop for a single second to consider WHY Hank is very happy to do my bidding? Did you stop to ask yourself what kind of man could dictate control over a seven foot tall mute beast? I think you’ve had this silly little notion that I’m a weak man, a push over, hiding behind a giant. I encourage you, dear Dusk, to continue thinking that way. I encourage you to not review a single second of my first two matches in the company. I encourage you not to consider the fact I had control of The Anglo Luchador’s life in my hands. I encourage you to live in the simple, basic, black and white world that matches your Beetlejuice tights. I encourage you not to fear me.
Although the self-assured smug expression remains very much plastered on The Glue Factory’s salesman, the window to his soul paints a much more furious image.
Phil Atken: Keep playing at the old games, Dusk – at the end of Great American Nightmare, you’ll look back to what Hank did to you at Culture Shock with fond memories.
At this point, spit is basically flying out after every syllable from Atken, as Hank continues to mean mug the camera.
Phil Atken: I tried to give you an out, I tried to give you a dignified exit. I should have known that you were too god damn prideful to take it. Now? It’s the ditch for you.
Atken has a hearty laugh at his own final remark as the camera fades out.
GIVE ME BATHORY
The camera is fixed on a wooden door as Jonathan Rhine stands in front of it, knocking twice.
Jonathan Rhine enters the office, which we see belongs to President and CEO of PRIME, Lindsay Troy.
Jonathan Rhine: Hello, Ms. Troy. Hope this isn’t a bad time.
The Queen is sitting behind her desk and scribbling something onto a legal pad. She looks up at Rhine walking toward her and chuckles.
Lindsay Troy: What’ve I told you about the formalities, Jon?
Rhine laughs as he sits down in the chair in front of her desk.
Jonathan Rhine: Impossible habit to break. Southern hospitality.
Then, he sighs.
Jonathan Rhine: Speaking of that, I want to express my apologies that the dinner ended up the way it did. I promise you that I had nothing to do with Julian Bathory, and if I had known he was involved we never would’ve taken his money…
Lindsay Troy: I believe you.
Jonathan Rhine: …and my reputation is important so I would never…wait, what?
Lindsay smirks and settles back in her chair.
Lindsay Troy: I know Shweta told Julian she wasn’t interested in his assistance. I knew that before our conversation over brunch. You can’t feign the kind of surprise and dread that I saw on her face once Bathory was announced; like everything was crashing around her. But you and her and Paxton don’t have to worry about your reputations with me. They are fine.
Jonathan Rhine: That’s good to hear. I was a little worried about it because I know that Shweta might not have the best reputation because of D…because of her past employer. But I can vouch for her now. She has done right by me for the past few years, and I know she had nothing to do with it.
Lindsay Troy: Her past employer was a topic of discussion as well, and I believe Shweta and I have come to an understanding on that matter.
Jonathan Rhine: Well, thank you for understanding.
Lindsay Troy: Was there anything else you needed?
Rhine sits up straight, gripping the arms of the chair.
Jonathan Rhine: Yes, actually. I want Bathory in the ring. Tonight if possible. Or next ReVival. But I need to get my hands on him and show him what happens when you mess with my foundation and the people I care about.
The Queen lifts an eyebrow at the phrase “my foundation,” but elects to let it go and take a more practical approach.
Lindsay Troy: You and Paxton are still in Survivor.
Jonathan Rhine: But…Jonathan Christopher-Hall pulled double duty at Culture Shock. Survivor and a title match.
Lindsay Troy: Jonathan-Christopher Hall earned the opportunity to compete for the 5 Star Title, and found himself a tag partner and opted in to Survivor. There’s no opt-in option for you here. And I’m allowed to change my mind.
She leans forward a little and folds her hands in front of her on the desk.
Lindsay Troy: Nobody knows better than me what you’re feeling right now. But you need to focus on what you’ve got in front of you. I’ll give you Julian, but not tonight, or next week.
Rhine sits back in the chair and looks down at his feet.
Jonathan Rhine: That’s…good enough, I guess.
Lindsay Troy: Are you pouting?
Jonathan Rhine: N-no.
He stands suddenly.
Jonathan Rhine: Thanks for listening, and thanks for giving me Bathory whenever it is.
He walks to the door and puts his hands on the doorframe.
Jonathan Rhine: I wasn’t pouting.
And with that, he leaves Lindsay’s office and ReVival continues on.
THE eGG BANDITS vs. SATURDAY NIGHT SPECIALS vs. NATE COLTON AND NATHAN FILMIX
We’re back at ringside, where Vince Howard and referee Jimmy Turnbull are standing in the ring for our next match…but before we get going, the affair is interrupted by the sound of “Let Me Entertain You” hitting the arena as the Masters of the Multiverse B-Team step out onto the stage, making a beeline for the commentary table…much to the chagrin of Richard Parker in particular.
Nick Stuart: Folks, we’re about to get underway with triple threat tag team action between the Egg Bandits, Saturday Night Special, and the Nate-ural Disasters…but it seems we’re being joined at the booth by Randall Schwartz and Kenny Freeman!
Richard Parker: Whoever the hell that is! Why are you two out here, anyway?
Kenny is taken aback by the remark, as Randall settles down putting the headset on.
Randall Schwartz: Hey, hi, hello! Mic check, one two! Can you hear me?
Nick Stuart: Yep, we hear ya just fine Randall!
Randall Schwartz: Wonderful! Now to answer your question, we are out here scouting the competition in the tag team division!
At this point Kenny has finally settled into his seat as well, putting the headset on with not nearly the degree of difficulty his compatriot just had.
Kenny Freeman: That’s right, these three teams have something in common…they got knocked out of Tag Team Survivor, which means we have a chance of facing one or more of these teams next time we’re scheduled to compete!
Nick Stuart: Right, we have this match along with the Hollywood Bruvs taking on Dangerous Mix later tonight and…
Randall just scoffs at this.
Randall Schwartz: Right, assuming the Bruvs don’t quit yet again on their way to the ring. Which, if they do, tells me that they’re scared of David Fox and Mushigoroshi. You know who isn’t scared of them?
Randall motions to himself and Kenny, who chuckles in response.
Kenny Freeman: Not us, that’s for sure! And unlike the Bruvs, we are more than willing to take on any challenge that comes our…
Kenny doesn’t get to finish his remark before noticing David Fox approaching him from behind. Kenny drops the headset, raising his hands up as he backs away. Randall quickly follows suit at the site of Mushigihara. Some words are exchanged between the two teams, nothing we catch but definitely something we can infer as the Masters run off to the back, followed closely by Dangerous Mix before we go back to Nick and Richard.
Nick Stuart: Well folks, it seems we won’t be hearing from the Masters of the Multiverse B-Team after all!
Richard Parker: Good! I’d rather focus on the in-ring action anyhow. Who was that one guy, anyway?
Nick just rolls his eyes at this as we cut to ringside!
Vince Howard: The following triple threat tag match is scheduled for one fall! Introducing first…
“Banditstruck” plays as Bobby Dean and Doozer make their way to the ring.
Vince Howard: At a combined weight of 642 pounds, they are the team of Bobby Dean and Doozer…THE EGG BAAAANDIIIITS!
The Bandits continue their journey, much to the delight of a good portion of the crowd as the pair enter the ring to get ready for the match.
Nick Stuart: Bobby Dean and Doozer looking to keep things rolling after a win against Solid Gold Rock and Roll a couple weeks ago!
Richard Parker: I’m shocked you would use the word “rolling” while Bobby Dean is around, Nick!
Vince Howard: Introducing next, their opponents…
“Drink” by Alestorm hits the PA system of the MGM Grand as Pat Cassidy and Brock Newbludd make their way to the ring, staring down the Bandits that await them.
Vince Howard: At a combined weight of 484 pounds, the team of Pat Cassidy and Brock Newbludd…SAAATURDAAAAY NIIIIIGHT SPECIALLLLS!
Pat and Brock charge down to the ring, sliding in before staring down their foes for the evening. The four men start jawjacking, though we don’t quite pick up what’s being said.
Nick Stuart: Looks like things are already heating up between the Bandits and SNS here!
Richard Parker: Cassidy and Newbludd are still reeling from being eliminated from Survivor but if there’s ever a chance to bounce back it’s tonight!
Vince Howard: And introducing their opponents…
“Tryin’” by The Eagles plays over the PA system, as Nate Colton steps out followed almost begrudgingly by his partner Nathan Filmix, the two mostly focused on the task ahead of them as they head down toward the ring.
Vince Howard: At a combined weight of 475 pounds, they are the team of…COOOOLTON AND FIIIIIILMIIIIIIX!
The duo quickly rush to the ring, and it becomes clear that things could escalate any second as Turnbull maintains order as best he can.
Nick Stuart: Speaking on the point you made Richard, these guys were unable to finish the last challenge due to the injury Colton suffered, and you know that the Bandits and SNS could look to take advantage of that!
Richard Parker: That’s right Nick, Colton’s got a target on his back…or in this case, his head!
We start things off with Doozer, Pat, and Nate…Filmix, who taunts the others to come at him, only to send Pat over the top rope to the outside before focusing his attention on Doozer by sending him to the neutral corner with an Irish whip! Filmix charges toward the corner, but takes an elbow to the face by the Boston Bruiser!
Nick Stuart: Welp, that didn’t go well for Filmix!
Richard Parker: Nathan didn’t see that one coming, and now Doozer’s getting a leg up!
Filmix is sent reeling back, an opening that Doozer quickly exploits with some right hands to the Wrestling Junkie before sending him to the ropes. He looks for a clothesline on the rebound, but Filmix ducks it…and hits a running forearm smash to the head of the Old Bull! Pat makes his way back into the ring now, going after Filmix with some right hands of his own before Doozer joins him in a double-team beatdown!
Nick Stuart: And now we have a temporary alliance between a Bandit and a Special, with the intent of wearing down Filmix!
Richard Parker: All’s fair in love and triple threat matches, Nick!
Doozer and Cassidy send Filmix to the ropes, this time connecting with a double clothesline that sends Filmix down hard to the canvas…and Doozer kicks Pat in the gut as a thank-you gift for the assist!
Nick Stuart: Oh now what’s this about!?
Richard Parker: Like I said Nick, all’s fair in…
Nick Stuart: Yeah yeah, I get it.
Doozer drives his elbow into the back of Cassidy now, over and over again to put an exclamation point on the statement he’s making. Doozer hits the ropes, building up momentum before connecting with a hard fist drop on Cassidy that sends the Scrapper from Southie to the canvas! Doozer goes for the cover, not noticing that Filmix is back to his feet as Turnbull makes the count!
And Filmix with a boot to the back of Doozer breaks up the count immediately!
Nick Stuart: No dice for Doozer there!
Richard Parker: Filmix not letting Doozer get away with that so easily!
Doozer gets to his feet, confronting Filmix before the two trade lefts and rights…only for Filmix to lock in a waistlock, looking for a German suplex…but Doozer blocks it, countering into a waistlock of his own! Doozer struggles as he too looks for a German suplex, but Filmix blocks that before breaking out of the hold…and the two stand off with fists up, much to the approval of the crowd!
Nick Stuart: Filmix and Doozer with a surprising exchange there!
Richard Parker: Nothing surprising about it, Nick! Doozer knows how to hold his own, we just don’t usually see it.
While the pair are focused on figuring out their next move, we see Cassidy make it back to his feet, looking to square up with both of his opponents! Filmix and Doozer oblige, and this time it’s Pat on the wrong end of a double-fisted beatdown before he’s sent to the corner…where he’s able to make the tag to Newbludd!
Nick Stuart: And here comes Milwaukee’s Beast himself!
Richard Parker: Like a bat outta hell, he’s rip and rarin’ to go!
Newbludd unleashes a flurry of offense, rights and lefts like a storm raining down upon Filmix and Doozer before sending the latter to the corner…where a strange shift of gravity causes Bobby Dean’s hand to slap Doozer on the shoulder for arguably the blindest of all blind tags!
Nick Stuart: Oh boy, Bobby does NOT look quite as enthused about this as Newbludd does!
Richard Parker: Bobby Dean is gonna have to do something though, cause Doozer looks out of sorts right now!
Bobby slowly steps into the ring, raising his hands up as if to say he wants no part of Newbludd…who doesn’t give the Beautiful One much of a say in the matter, unloading a series of lefts and rights on the big man! Newbludd winds up, looking for a wide haymaker…but is intercepted by the recovered Filmix, who rattles him with a right hand of his own! Bobby catches Filmix from behind with a forearm, blindsiding the Wrestling Junkie in the process…but Filmix fights back, sending Bobby to the corner before rushing over to Colton for the tag!
Nick Stuart: And things are gonna get interesting with Colton in!
Richard Parker: Time to see how well he’s recovered, Nick!
Colton looks to swing the momentum in his favor as he goes to work on Bobby Dean, trying to keep the big man off his game with some swift kicks to the leg followed by a headlock…but Bobby is able to counter that, hoisting Colton up and driving him headfirst to the canvas with a back suplex!
Nick Stuart: And what a move that was by Bobby Dean! That had to have done a number on Colton, though!
Richard Parker: Looks like it did a number on Bobby, too!
Bobby rolls over to the corner, looking a bit out of it as we see Doozer back to his feet as he leans over, just barely managing to lightly tap Dean’s back…and Turnbull is counting it as a tag! Doozer rushes in, making a beeline for Colton as he goes for the cover for the second time in this bout!
Unfortunately for the Boston Bruiser, Newbludd breaks up the pinfall! Newbludd brings Doozer to his feet, lifting him up for a vertical suplex that drops him to the canvas! Meanwhile, Colton is slowly getting to his feet as he favors his neck after the damage that’s been done…just in time to be rocked by a hard uppercut by Newbludd!
Nick Stuart: Newbludd really going all out here, letting both Doozer and Colton know what he’s made of!
Richard Parker: You love to see it, Nick! Newbludd’s really showing some aggression here, preferably of the ruthless variety!
Richard’s words ring true as Newbludd really ramps up the intensity here, laying the strikes in thick on Colton as Doozer finally builds back up to a vertical base. He catches Newbludd off guard, connecting with a German suplex that sends the Beast on his own trip to the Rasslin’ Residence! Newbludd is down as Doozer turns his attention to Colton…who stops the Old Bull from charging at him by pulling the top rope down, using Doozer’s own momentum against him as he goes flying over to the outside! Newbludd shakes the proverbial cobwebs out of his literal head as he stands up, noticing Colton still looking a bit off from earlier.
Nick Stuart: Uh oh, this could be bad news for Nate Colton!
Richard Parker: Newbludd’s got that look in his eye!
Newbludd is out to finish things here as he attacks Colton, looking to keep the pressure on him while bringing him up to his knees before hitting the ropes! FACE MELTER–NO! Colton dodges that Shining Wizard just in the nick of time, and Newbludd falls to his back as a result! Colton rushes Newbludd from behind, locking in the Colton Clutch! Newbludd is fighting back as best he can…but to no avail, as Colton sends him flying over with the suplex! With Newbludd down and the Bandits still recovering on the outside, Colton goes for the cover as Turnbull makes the count!
DING DING DING!
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, your winners via pinfall…COOOOLTONNNN AND FILLLLMIIIIIIX!
Turnbull helps Colton to his feet before raising his hand in victory, with Filmix coming in to join in the celebration before we cut to commentary!
Nick Stuart: What a win here for Colton and Filmix, particularly with Colton still recovering from the nasty turn of events from the previous Survivor round!
Richard Parker: I’ll give credit where it’s due, Colton showed a lot of heart and guts to work through that pain, and it paid off in dividends!
The duo continue to soak in the crowd’s appreciation as we see the Bandits finally recovering, choosing to regroup on the entranceway as we go to commercial!
MILLS, MORTIMER, MATTRESSES, AND MCFLYS
The scene cuts to the backstage area where the interviewing vet Matt Mills stands next to the masked wrestling rookie, Mortimer Kjedelig. Mortimer sports a black and PRIME blue tracksuit, the zipper is only pulled up halfway revealing a blue t-shirt with what appears to be a graphic of the upperhalf of a dark haired man who appears to be wearing a trenchcoat and appears to be holding what can only be described as a “boom box” over his head.
Matt Mills: Matt Mills here with Mortimer Kjedelig. Mortimer, you’ve had two matches and came away with two losses. How do you feel—-
Mortimer Kjedelig: Hold up there, Geraldo. Who says I lost those matches? I should be undefeated if Anna Daniels didn’t travel back in time and ensured that GREAT SCOTT and FLAMBERGE beat me!
Matt Mills: Are you seriously suggesting—-
Mortimer Kjedelig: I ain’t suggestin’ nothin’. I’m straight up tellin’ you that’s what happened. She’s preventin’ my success with her time travel superpowers.
Matt Mills: Why? Why would Anna Daniels cost you your matches here in PRIME?
Mortimer Kjedelig: I dunno, maybe she’s a psycho. Maybe she’s goin’ through the PMS. Maybe she’s got one of them Vitamin C deficiencies. Or maybe she just doesn’t like the cut of my jig. Who friggin’ knows? I could hyper-theorize her reasonin’s all night. Whatever it is, she’s got this vendetta against me for some reason and it’s messed up..
Matt Mills: From everything we have seen from Anna Daniels, that seems implausible.
Mortimer Kjedelig: And time travel ain’t? You know what I’ve seen, pal? I’ve seen someone talk a whole lotta crap about how changin’ the past can destroy the world. How does anyone know that? The only way anyone would know for sure is if someone changed somethin’ and the world ended. If that happened, then we’d all be fuckin’ dead, am I right?
Matt Mills: I was never very good with quantum physics.
Mortimer Kjedelig: And what about Marty McFly, huh?
Matt Mills: What?
Mortimer Kjedelig: Marty McFly goes back to 1955, he hangs out, writes a letter and then comes back to 1985 where Doc Brown is alive, his father writes a book, his brother no longer works in the fast food industry, and he has a kick ass truck. All of that does not happen if he does not directly or indirectly alterate a couple of minor details in the past. His life is fuckin’ aces when he gets back!
Matt Mills: That is just a movie.
Mortimer Kjedelig: So was “Titanic!” So was “Pearl Harbor!” The point that I am tryin’ to make here is that I wanna change a tiny, eensy weensy thing in my past, somethin’ that could potentially, in a particular point of view when lookin’ at it with a certain milieu, save lives. Does she not wanna save lives? Or is she some kinda sadist that gets off on the misery of others? Is she gettin’ her kicks knowin’ how shitty my life is?
Matt Mills: Perhaps you could shed some light on what, in fact, it is that you want her to change in your past?
Mortimer Kjedelig: I cannot disclose those particulars due to a certain circumstance of which, I cannot divulge. But let’s say hypotheoretically speaking, a young man had an opportunity to do somethin’ he only dreamed about, but certain events developed where money became a problem, he needed some extra cash. Well, “wanted” some extra cash. Serenpiditously, his cousin, Mikey, needs help with a thing, this young guy does this thing which gets him paid. Then another thing develops and this young man, on the night that opportunity was gonna become a reality, gets convinced by his cousin to help him out again, one thing leads to another, and this young man, Cousin Mikey, and a couple other mooks get pinched and do time. And to this day, that young man still hasn’t seen “She’s All That”.
Matt Mills: Odd. So, I’m not sure exactly what you were saying there, but if I am to understand this, you want Anna to prevent those actions from taking place and she has declined. Can you blame her? She probably gets thousands of requests like that!
Mortimer Kjedelig: Who gives a fuck about other people?! She made this personal between us. This is my fuckin’ life we’re talkin’ about here. How could it not be? I tried to hire her, gave her chocolates, and she basically kicked me in the balls and left me for dead. Whatever her reasons, don’t mean dick. I take her refusal as a sign of disrespect. If we have to go to the mattresses over this, so be it….but, I promise you this, if it comes to it, I will come out on top.
Matt Mills: Well, strong words—-
Mortimer Kjedelig: You know I don’t mean “sex” when I say “go to the mattresses,” right?
Matt Mills: Yes, I am familiar with the phrase.
Mortimer Kjedelig: It means “go to war.”
Matt Mills: Yes, I know that.
Mortimer Kjedelig: I don’t know what you know and don’t know. Don’t get all condensatin’ and such.
Matt Mills: I don’t think I was.
Mortimer Kjedelig: A little bit. I’m startin’ to get an Anna Daniels vibe from you. I don’t like it.
Matt Mills: In any case, we are out of time because I hear we have some words from PRIME’s Tag Team Survivor competitors!
The scene cuts from an always professional and even keeled Matt Mills and a clearly annoyed and miffed masked Mortimer to a scene that is sure to include strategy, blindsides, hidden immunity idols, idol nullifiers, a Medallion of Power, and an hourglass twist.
JEFF PROBST IS THE BIGGEST FACE IN PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING
The camera focuses in on the Las Vegas strip where a helmeted motorcyclist is tearing down the pavement. He’s doing a wheelie now, and it’s as sick as you’d imagine. The bike blows through a red light, weaving in and out of crossing traffic, but out of nowhere, it’s one of those big trucks that transports a load of cars, only this one is empty, and the back of it makes a ramp.
The motorcycle goes up this ramp, and the driver flies off the bike and grabs onto the hanging ladder of a helicopter. Instead of climbing up the ladder, he just holds himself up by one bicep, looking cool. The helicopter does some maneuvering, and it’s right outside the top of the MGM Grand.
The man on the ladder swings his momentum, leaps through the air, dropkicks through a 28th floor window, tucks and rolls, and lands in the middle of an island themed set where a confused collection of Survivor Participants (some holding invitations to this very room) have gathered. The mysterious man takes off his helmet. It’s Jeff fuckin’ Probst–well, a Jeff Probst impersonator, anyway (heretoforth referred to as Jeff Probst), and he looks absolutely fantastic for being 60 (or however old the impersonator is. You don’t have to be the same age as the person you’re impersonating to legally impersonate them. He can hit though.)
Jeff Probst: Survivors, congratulations and welcome to the Final Four. I’m your host, Jeff Probst, and before tonight’s challenge, I wanted to reward you all for making it this far.
A tribe of Las Vegas natives enters the room, each one carrying a cloche with the Guy Fieri Vegas Kitchen and Bar logo on it. Behind them, a troupe of Jack Sparrow impersonators swashbuckle in, each clutching top shelf bottles of the main types of liquors.
The natives lift the cloches: Trash Can Nachos, Lobster Lollipops, Double Barrel BBQ wings, Bacon Mac N Cheeseburgers, and for dessert? Seven layer dark chocolate whiskey cake.
Jeff Probst: In addition, the winning team from tonight’s challenge wins a 2022 Buick Envision Avenir with a 2.0 liter turbo engine, Front Park Assist, a Bose 9-speaker premium audio system, and a 10.2” diagonal Buick Infotainment System.
There’s a smattering of applause as the far wall lifts up, revealing a fully loaded Envision Avenir. Nobody’s going apeshit or anything, but you can tell that on the inside, all 8 remaining competitors and Future Nova are absolutely stoked about the luxury SUV with 52.7 cubic feet of storage capacity. Future GBJ is dead, otherwise he also would be excited. Alive GBJ is holding him up underneath the arm, and Nova is standing between the pair of Johnny’s and Future Nova.
Jeff Probst: That being said, dig into the food, have some drinks, and for one team, enjoy one last reward before you’re eliminated. Probst out!
Without skipping a beat, Probst turns on a dime, somersaults out of the broken window, and pulls a ripcord in his jacket that unleashes a parachute. Meanwhile, back in the MGM Grand, GBJ is housing a Bacon Mac N Cheeseburger as Future Nova taunts the general audience.
Future Nova: I don’t know who the fuck that asshole was, but me, Johnny, past Johnny, and past Nova are going to be cruising out of here in style in our new Buick.
Future Nova walks over to the SUV, kicks a tire, and whistles.
Future Nova: And there’s not a damn thing any of you can do to stop us!
Enter a schmuck, who has apparently taken the “maze” concept of this week’s competition a touch too literally.
If you’ve never seen the 1986 Jim Hendon classic “Labyrinth,” then this reference is going to be lost on you. First, that’s a problem you should fix, and then good luck ever getting the lyrics to “Magic Dance” out of your head. Congratulations, now you’re cursed forever.
In addition to his mask, King Blueberry has taken it upon himself to do a little light cosplaying. A flowing, frilly white shirt is complemented by gray pants so tight that you can probably guess his religion if you look close enough at his crotch (but please don’t; he is very insecure about this). This would explain the blurred circle that the viewers at home will see. The blond wig he sports looks as if the essence of glam-rock band Poison was boiled down, distilled, and then dumped on top of his head in a frenzied yellow mess. The transformation from Jared the Blueberry King into Jareth the Goblin King is complete.
King Blueberry: I mean, maybe? But then you have to worry about getting that thing back to wherever – uhh, whenever? – you’re from. Also have fun paying the taxes on that in future money.
Propped against a wall rests the body of the son of Super Cool Guy, who is also dressed for the occasion, though in his case that consists of a blindfold drawn over already-lifeless eyes. This is probably why a red-tipped walking stick has been duct taped to one arm, and why the other arm has been bound to the leash of an aging golden retriever with the name tag “Quasar.”
King Blueberry: Serious question though – how the hell did a car get up here? I mean the dude with the somersaults and parachutes is one thing, and I can kinda hand-wave the time travel stuff, but how the fuck did a car end up on the 28th floor? The mind reels.
You can hear the next individual that approaches well before they actually show up on screen.
Joe Fontaine: Hey hey HEY! Nice wheels! Man, I can’t wait to win this so we can drive it off the 28th floor and fly it into the danger zone!
The camera pans just to Blueberry’s right, revealing that the Winds of Change are standing right there. It’s like they suddenly teleported in through the powers of narrative. Don’t think about it too much. Never think about it. Anyway, Joe is wearing a shimmering yellow suit, so gaudy that he’s too gaudy even for the lavish Las Vegas nightlife. Sid is wearing his singlet, because it’s the only thing he knows how to wear for these sorts of occasions.
Sid Phillips: If you try to fly this thing out of the 28th floor, I’m not coming with you.
Joe Fontaine: I mean, how else does the winner get it out of here? I bet this baby’s got jet engines or something.
Sid Phillips: I don’t think you understand how aerodynamics work.
Joe Fontaine: Sure I do! Jet equals flight, baby!
Joe turns, and his eyes meet those of El Hijo del Super Cool Guy. We think. He doesn’t really have eye… well, anyway, at the sight of him, Joe literally jumps two feet into the air and lands in the kind of crouch you might see from a stealth game if you’re trying to stay out of sight from a guard.
Joe Fontaine: OH JESUS WHY IS THAT THING THERE HOLY GOD NO.
King Blueberry: He’s on the guest list.
Quasar, unable to contain his canine urges any longer, sprints towards the food. Super Cool Guy, still tethered to the dog, is yanked off of his feet and sent sailing through the air in Joe’s direction. Maybe it’s pity, maybe it’s the blindfold, but fortunately for the young mister Fontaine, he is spared the wrath of the mannequin’s Canadian impulses.
The dog chomps down on a burger.
King Blueberry: Great. Now I’m going to have to explain to Thad why his dog’s got the runs later.
Joe isn’t there any more. He flees screaming away from the scene. His screams are definitely manly and don’t at all sound like a little girl. Yup. Sid watches him go, shaking his head, then turns to King Blueberry.
Sid Phillips: …Yup. Definitely powerbombing you later.
Walking past the fleeing Fontaine is Fighting For Nora. They are not wearing any sort of costumes, but Paxton Ray does have his blindfold around his neck like a kerchief. He wrings his right fist, which is bandaged, as the two men walk up to the other Survivors.
Jonathan Rhine: I feel…out of place.
Paxton Ray: Wonder why that is. Not like we’ve been surrounded by morons since this entire thing started.
Rhine stares at King Blueberry, Sid Phillips, and the Past and Future Somethings and opens his mouth.
Jonathan Rhine: We…
Paxton Ray: Nah, bud. Not this time. You ain’t gotta say nothin’. I got this.
Paxton steps up to Phillips.
Paxton Ray: You’re young like me. You’re strong like me. But you’re not fearless like me. And you got an idiot for a partner. My partner’s about as interestin’ as a cardboard cut-out, but he ain’t an idiot.
Jonathan Rhine: Hey!
Paxton Ray: And you. Hacks to the Future. Not sure what kinda weird futuristic time shit you’re on, but just make sure you don’t bump into me when you’re feeling your way in this maze, ‘cause I’m punchin’ anythin’ that touches me.
He then looks over at the Goblin King Blueberry.
Paxton Ray: And you…I sure do hope you bump into me. Prayin’ for it, honestly.
Paxton slaps Jon Rhine on the chest.
Paxton Ray: Me an’ him? We’ve watched you idiots run the show for weeks. In stupider and stupider contests. But the way I see it? We only gotta get through two more of these stupid contests, and then we’re in the ring. And I can’t wait to find out which of you morons I’m gonna get my hands on.
Paxton Ray cracks the knuckles on his left hand, then walks away.
Jonathan Rhine: So, uh…good luck, guys.
Future Nova takes a break from trying to hotwire the Buick to flick off Paxton Ray, following his tirade against all his fellow participants. While regular Nova is just relieved that it’s provided another distraction. On the other side of the room, GBJ drags Future GBJ–both with beards full of seven layer dark chocolate whiskey cake remnants–over to the imposing Sid Phillips.
GBJ: Say, blood. You’re the fellow that powerbombed me at the last challenge, right?
Sid raises an eyebrow inquisitively.
Sid Phillips: I’d say that’s a pretty safe bet.
GBJ: Listen, man. My friend here’s a little shy, but he’s a really big fan. He was wondering if you’d do the honors on him.
Sid looks at Future GBJ, and shrugs. He’s had stranger requests asked of him in this whole thing, after all. He gets him up into position, and then spikes him with a jackknife powerbomb. Sid roars and raises his arms into the air.
Sid Phillips: Aw, YEAH! Starting things off ri– uh…
He pauses, and looks down at the corpse by his feet.
Sid Phillips: …Doesn’t he stink a little more than usual?
GBJ: I think he had one too many lobster lollipops, and crustaceans don’t agree with him. You probably knocked the sh–
GBJ is interrupted by Future Nova, who breaks past regular Nova and storms over towards the commotion. Nova isn’t far behind.
Future Nova: What the hell was that?
GBJ: Calm down. I think Future GBJ might be out cold, but I’m going to take him back to the hotel room and let him get some rest. You and Nova stay here, enjoy the party, maybe even do the challenge with just you two. You had such good chemistry on last ReV!
Future Nova: Oh, no you don’t! You’re going to stay here and we’re going to teach this big ugly lug over here a lesson or two.
Future Nova points at Sid Phillips. Sid looks at Future Nova and smirks. Nova and GBJ look at each other and shrug. Nova and GBJ look at Sid Phillips and each gives him a signaling nod. Sid gives Future Nova a kick to the midsection and follows it up with a powerbomb for good measure.
GBJ: Thanks, man.
Nova: Yeah, we really appreciate it!
Garbage Bag and Nova drag off their futuristic counterparts in opposite directions as Sid shrugs, not sure really what just went down.
Sid Phillips: …I mean, I’m not going to argue with getting to powerbomb folks, but that was capital-W weird.
Blueberry saunters past him. Not by choice. Those David Bowie pants are super tight, and every step tugs in all the wrong places.
King Blueberry: So we’ve got the threat of powerbomb and now punching to look forward to. Cool. Cool cool cool.
He unhooks the leash from Quasar’s collar and pulls at the slack to drag the blind mannequin down the corridor. For his part, Quasar seems unaffected by this, perhaps too distracted by the delicious mask of barbeque sauce that coats his muzzle.
King Blueberry: Anyone else want to get on the list before all the good spots are gone?
The King whistles a “c’mon, boy” to the retriever, who steals one last bite of chicken for the road. No bones, though. He’s been trained well. There’s a subtle limp in the dog’s gait; the lasting effects of an unfortunate encounter with a Pit Viper over a decade ago.
King Blueberry: Going once…? Twice…?
Sid Phillips: I could threaten to powerbomb you again, if that works for you. Kinda the only thing I got.
Jonathan Rhine: I got nothing.
The camera zooms out real fast with a really cool effect and then just as quickly, zooms back in with the same effect. Now we’re inside a control room inside a submarine. In addition to the SONAR monitor and its steady beeping, there are several other monitors, all different camera angles on the remaining Survivor participants. Shorthand identifiers are taped under each monitor: Sid, Joe, KB, GBJ, Pax, etc. Jeff Probst is watching the monitors with various clipboard carrying assistants flanking him. He looks displeased.
Jeff Probst: I guess we’re going to have to save the hell out of this in post. Probst out!
Jeff Probst quickly puts on a deep sea diving suit and some kind of seaborn propeller before entering the airlock and blasting up to the surface of the ocean.
TAG TEAM SURVIVOR
ReVival returns to a colorful, not at all dangerous scene. As PRIME’s squadron of drones takes in the scene, the spectacle of what awaits the individuals about to compete in the latest round of Survivor takes hold.
Stretching before seven individuals – plus one mannequin – is a maze. Painted in all manners of bright colors, the maze is a typical maze. It has an entrance and an exit. At every intersection in the maze is a camera, which will showcase the action and progress of the competitors without interfering with their other senses, as a camera crew or even a drone would.
Anyway, everyone involved is wearing blindfolds, because that’s definitely how you navigate a maze. Blindly.
Nick Stuart: We’re mere moments from the blindfold maze leg of the Survivor competition!
Richard Parker: Who the hell decorated this abomination?
Nick Stuart: I’m getting word that this was decorated by the orphans adopted into the 42-story orphanage recently opened up by GREAT SCOTT.
Richard Parker: Oh, uh… Looks great!
One wonders how or why an orphanage needs 42 stories, but don’t worry about that, let’s get to our competitors.
First, you have the Winds of Change. Once again, Joe Fontaine is dressed like the gaudiest man at a wrestling show, which says a lot about him. It’s a good thing everyone is blindfolded, they might go blind with how much light his suit is reflecting. Sid wears his singlet, as always, but he is also wearing a T-shirt over the top of it that reads “Powerbomb Siddy” over the Vegas skyline.
Next, you have Fighting for Nora. Paxton Ray looks particularly miffed at the prospect of going in blind, clenching his fists like he’s ready to punch everyone around him. Well, he’s clinching one fist. The other one is wrapped in bandages. Don’t get into fist fights with walls, kids. You couldn’t quite see the look on the face of Jonathan Rhine because of his blindfold, but one only needed to see his body language to tell that he’d rather be anywhere except this saccharine maze.
Next, you have the Garbage Bag Johnny and Nova contingent. This seems to be represented by Nova and Future Nova, who stand there with their blindfolds on. Future Nova still looks dazed from getting powerbombed by Sid earlier. Conspicuous by their absence, however, are Garbage Bag Johnny and the Future Garbage Bag Johnny. Well, one of them is dead, and that’s very sad. The narration weeps for Future GBJ. Taken from us too soon. No one else knows he’s dead, though, so that’s definitely a secret between us. Ssh.
And finally, you have the Blue Live Crew. Where the hell do we even start here? Well, let’s start with our good berry boy, King Blueberry. It appears that the moment His Highness learned that there was a maze – a Labyrinth, if you will – he went full Bowie.
For one night only, Jared the Blueberry King is now Jareth the Goblin King. He wears a giant, blonde blowout wing over his blueberry mask. A big, fluffy shirt accompanies a pair of ridiculously tight pants that leaves nothing to the imagination. King Blueberry’s pants are so tight that the man will be singing soprano by the end of this competition, if he doesn’t rip them asunder trying to walk.
Ladies, try not to faint.
As for the King’s tag team partner… well. It’s El Hijo del Super Cool Guy, and he has a blindfold on. Of course he does. Why wouldn’t he? However, his face has a very important feature on it that hadn’t been there earlier in the night.
Richard Parker: Okay, I can accept what Blueberry is wearing with a couple of martinis, but… are those vampire fangs on El Hijo del Super Cool Guy?
Nick Stuart: Yes.
Richard Parker: …K.
The participants blindly gather at the entrance to the maze, and referee Ashley Barlow begins a countdown. Starting in five, four, three, two…
Nick Stuart: And here we go!
Seven very capable adult men and one mannequin charge at the maze.
Joe Fontaine runs directly into the wall and bounces off, landing on his back and rolling backwards from the sheer counter-momentum. The other six – plus a mannequin – are smart enough to not do exactly as Joe did. They blindly feel for the wall, and then progress through the maze in different directions. Sid, Rhine, and the Novas go down the left path, while Paxton, Blueberry, and El Hijo del Super Cool Guy go right. Joe crawls back to his feet, and eventually heads right.
Okay, time to address one of the many elephants in the room. Seriously, it’s an elephant convention. Not sure that the room can handle such a high capacity of elephants, even if that room is a maze designed to contain these elephants.
Well, anyway, let’s ask a question: How are these morons supposed to make it through this maze?
It doesn’t take long before Paxton and Blueberry (and mannequin) find an intersection. There, printed on the walls, is an arrow. Anyone with eyes could tell you that it’s pointing the direction you have to go in order to get out of the maze. But see, nobody in this maze except us have eyes. Well, the eyes are in fixed locations around the maze.
Anyway, the arrows are printed in such a way that they bulge slightly from the wall. If you feel around, you’ll feel an arrow, and it points you in the direction you need to go. It’s also written in braille. Because they’re all fluent in braille now. Especially Jonathan Rhine.
Paxton reaches the wall first, and after feeling around with the hand that isn’t bandaged, he finds the bulge.
Meanwhile, Joe, who’s caught up to the shenanigans, also feels around for the bulge. However, his hand actually finds a far different bulge. That of the Goblin King, King Blueberry.
Richard Parker: I wish viewers knew how much I’m facepalming right now, Nick.
Nick Stuart: Uh, no comment.
Blueberry reacts as though he’s being attacked by a swarm of bees. He jumps back, and throws El Hijo del Super Cool Guy at Joe as though he would be protected by a mannequin.
If you’ve seen any of the previous four rounds of this, you should know exactly what happens next.
Joe doesn’t realize what’s about to happen until he feels El Hijo del Super Cool Guy’s legs around his head. And that’s when he has a dawning, horrible realization.
Joe Fontaine: N-no…
There is a Wilhelm scream.
And then there is silence.
Nick Stuart: A Canadian Destroyer on Joe Fontaine! He’s down already! It’s not even a minute into the contest!
Richard Parker: …The only thing I can’t believe is how often that keeps happening to that dude.
Paxton Ray, who now knows which way to go, stops and looks around, evidently confused on what he just heard. Then he shrugs his shoulders and moves on. King Blueberry pauses to adjust his bulge, then finds the bulge on the wall, and follows Paxton.
He pointedly does not take El Hijo del Super Cool Guy with him, because we’re not sure he even knows where he is after what just happened.
So, let’s check in on Sid, Jon, and the Novas.
The Novas are very in sync, moving in a synchronized way down the halls. Almost as though they’re the same dude, just one is from the future. Sid is far less coordinated, but he is a large and meaty boy. And Rhine… well, Rhine’s moving as though he’s checked out, only half-heartedly moving forward while barely keeping a hand at the wall to make sure he’s going the right way.
They reach the next intersection.
The Novas find the arrow, and move in the correct direction. Sid… does not. He moves in the not-correct direction, which is straight ahead, towards a dead end that’s just out of view of the camera. Rhine ends up following the Novas without even thinking about it. Perhaps he could follow their scent. What do the Novas smell like? Probably cheese and old man farts.
Richard Parker: I think Mr. Powerbomb, Esquire is going in the wrong direction.
Nick Stuart: And with his partner down on the other side of the maze, it’s not looking good for the Winds of Change!
We cut back over to Blueberry and Paxton, who are now the only two making any progress on their side of the maze. Paxton reaches the next intersection first, but that’s when King Blueberry makes the bold play of swinging at him. After all, the man’s pretty certain his tag team partner isn’t made from flesh and blood, so it’s easier for him to attack someone than it would be for Paxton, who might run the risk of attacking his partner.
Blueberry peppers the taller Paxton with rights and lefts, only realizing just as he starts punching that he’s dealing with the much taller Paxton when he aims a punch for Paxton’s face and hits him in the chest instead, expecting a shorter man. Not sure why he thought that when there’s a one out of three chance he was going to pick a fight with a large meaty boy, but Paxton responds by slugging him once.
Don’t worry. The Goblin King of Blueberries isn’t going to die so easily.
He’s just going to drop like a sack of bricks and curl up into a fetal position.
Paxton throws a few more punches at the air, but realizes that he’s hitting nothing and isn’t being hit any more. So he finds the wall and after a few moments, he remembers which way he’s going and continues on. A few moments later, King Blueberry gets up holding his jaw, and manages to follow after him.
Richard Parker: On my shortlist of people to start a fist fight with, Paxton Ray’s name would be in an international zip code, far away from my list.
Nick Stuart: Who is on your list?
Richard Parker: Uh… I might’ve just written the name “Dusk” fourteen times in a row. Well, okay, I started the list with Simon Tillier, and then it kinda got out of hand. Oh, and I put Mr. Darby in there somewhere, too. Probably under the eighth Dusk.
We cut back to Sid Phillips, as he passes by the intersection that he’d originally walked by earlier to go the wrong direction. After a moment, he starts walking the wrong way again, heading back towards the way everyone came from. In other words, he’s heading back towards the entrance.
He’s lost, and he has nothing to powerbomb. Sad.
We cut to another intersection, this time with the Novas and Jonathan Rhine. Future Nova ends up going in the wrong direction, leaving Present Nova and Rhine alone together.
We cut to an empty intersection. We’re not sure why we’re there. The shot lingers for a few moments, before Joe Fontaine appears. He’s crawling on the ground on his hands and knees at one end of the corridor. He doesn’t quite clear the corner before he suddenly stops. Joe gets a terrified look on his face.
Joe Fontaine: No… NO! NOOO!
And then suddenly, he is yanked violently back behind the corner.
There is a scream. To the untrained ear, it sounds like a little girl’s scream. It is not.
Moments later, a figure is thrown from behind that corner. That figure is rigid, and made of plastic and fiberglass. Because it’s a mannequin. You know which one it is. It lies there for a few agonizing moments, a dead silence washing over the scene.
Then the feed goes static for a moment.
When it comes back, El Hijo del Super Cool Guy is standing, as still as a night sky that just got caught jerkin’ it by its disappointed mother sky. A single shoe is behind him, one of the ones that Joe had been wearing, only there’s an unknown red substance pooled underneath it. The body is facing the wall to the left. The head, unerringly, is facing the camera.
Richard Parker: What the…
We cut back to an empty corridor. A dead end. Why do we have a camera there? Don’t ask too many questions. We see one of the Novas walking by on one end of the hallway. The shot lingers there for a moment.
Then a dark figure enters the shot. The distance between the camera and the figure is such that the only thing you can tell for certain is that they’re wearing black. Covered in it. Molded by it. You can’t tell if the figure is male or female. The figure’s movements are labored, stopping and starting its movement at random intervals.
The feed distorts, jumping from various scenes in the maze. Present Nova is still making progress down the maze, with Jonathan Rhine still following him. Sid Phillips is still incredibly lost, and is pacing around as though he doesn’t know what to do with himself over this fact. When we come back to the empty corridor, something covered in black is dragged along the ground around the corner and out of sight. It disappears so fast that no one knows what the hell it was.
Nick Stuart: Uh… sorry, folks, we weren’t expecting these, um… technical difficulties.
Richard Parker: “Technical difficulties!?”
We cut away from that corridor, and return to the corridor where El Hijo del Super Cool Guy was last seen. He is now much closer to the static camera. It’s a distance of only a first down. This time, the body is facing away from the camera, back down the hall. But the head… is still facing the camera.
Then the feed distorts again, and we see another corridor. Paxton Ray and King Blueberry are both headed in the same direction, their hands against the walls as they move forward. They move towards the camera, where the sign indicating where they go next is printed. Behind them, stumbling past the corridor and going in the wrong direction, is Sid Phillips. We’re not sure how he got there. We’re pretty sure he doesn’t, either.
Once Paxton and Blueberry disappear into the camera’s blind spot, the scene cuts away, and we see a hulking figure walking down a corridor, away from the camera. The figure wears a cape of black crow feathers, a hood covering the back of its head, save for two large bull horns coming out of the sides. It drags along what can only be described as a giant axe, only the axe heads are actually two steel chairs tied to the end of a long handle.
The figure stops.
Then it turns to the camera.
The inert face of a bull can be seen peeking over its shoulder. Steam billows out from its nostrils. A single red eye glows. Then a sound like a scream, a moo, and the roar of a freight train at the same time emanates from it, shaking the camera until there’s nothing but static.
Richard Parker: Was that a damn minotaur?
Nick Stuart: Don’t worry about it.
Richard Parker: I AM WORRYING A LOT ABOUT IT.
When the feed starts back up again, we see Present Nova and Jonathan Rhine making more progress through the corridors. Then Nova pauses, which causes Rhine to bump into him.
Nova whirls around with his fist raised, but then he hesitates for a moment. Then he asks him a one word question.
Jonathan Rhine: …Huh?
Nova hauls off and punches Rhine right in the face. Rhine drops to the ground, covering his head, and Nova continues onward.
Nick Stuart: What was that about?
Richard Parker: Haven’t you ever heard of a safe word?
Nick Stuart: Not in that context, no.
We cut to Sid Phillips.
He’s still lost. He hasn’t powerbombed anyone since he entered the maze, and he’s walking around in a dazed stagger, as though not being able to powerbomb anyone or anything in this maze has actually taken away much of his power. The camera cuts to one of the entrances into the maze, where Sid emerges. Upon realizing he’s no longer in the cramped corridors, he raises his arms into the air in triumph. He made it.
That’s when someone informs him that he’s back at the start.
Sid Phillips: FU—
We smash cut to an empty corridor. It’s covered in red stuff, and it’s not the red and yellow paint job. This is more of a crimson color. Standing in the middle of this red stuff is El Hijo del Super Cool Guy. A shimmering green necktie is tied around his head like a bandana. It’s above his blindfold. Also, his body is pointed directly towards the camera, but his head is turned 180 degrees away.
Then slowly, the head turns.
On its own.
Before the mannequin’s head can turn all the way around, there’s static, and then it disappears completely from view. Only the stains of crimson remain.
The feed skips around to various points of the maze. A shot of a long corridor, with two feet barely sticking out from around a corner. One of the feet is missing a shoe. The way the pants shimmer make it unmistakable that this is Joe Fontaine.
Then the feed cuts to a corner, where the dark figure that’d been dragging around an unidentified mass is now no longer dragging an unidentified mass. In fact, this is the first time we’d gotten a good look at him, and… well. He’s familiar.
Richard Parker: Nick, is that Garbage Bag Johnny?
Nick Stuart: Now that you mention it, yeah.
Richard Parker: …When did he get into the maze?
Nick Stuart: There’s a lot of questions that need to be asked here, but that’s certainly one of them.
Richard Parker: So, you don’t know, then.
Nick Stuart: Not a clue.
At some point, Johnny had put on a blindfold, but he’s walking with a strange confidence. As though he just got away with something very ridiculous that he’s not telling anyone about.
We cut away to another intersection, this time a T-junction viewed from above. On one end, Nova walks into view. And then from the opposite end, Future Nova walks up. Both of them bump chests, then take one step back and raise their fists, ready for fisticuffs.
Future Nova: Rutabega?
Future Nova: Hey, man! Dab me up.
The two Novas relax their stances and manage instead to clasp hands, Predator-style. The pair figure out which way to go and leave in the direction that neither of them had come from.
We cut back to a single shot, and OH JESUS GOD.
El Hijo del Super Cool Guy’s face is mere inches from the camera. A red substance seems to be leaking out from behind his blindfold, casting what can be seen of his face with tears of blood. His vampire fangs are even more prominent as the light has disappeared behind the mannequin’s head, casting his face in shadow and crimson. His eyes, if he had them and they could even be seen, cast a void on the television screen. This is what the abyss looks like when it gazes back unto you. This is the precipice of insanity. Just a little push, and you go right over.
A droning sound intensifies as El Hijo del Super Cool Guy stares into your soul. The screen shakes, as though vibrating. Is that the camera? Or is that EHDSCG? And is he getting… closer?
The scene is suddenly garbled up. The mannequin is shown to be upside down. Then it appears many yards away, standing over a fallen form. Then you see a hulking figure walk onto the scene, dragging an axe made of steel chairs behind it. It looks down at the fallen form, and then raises its axe high over its head.
Then the camera cuts to static.
Nick Stuart: I… what?
Richard Parker: …I’m… even I’m at a loss…
When we get the camera feed again, we see Sid Phillips still wandering around lost. He rounds a corner, and once again finds himself outside of the maze again! He did it! He made it!
…he makes it back to the entrance, and he is once again informed that he has to go back into the maze and do it right.
Sid Phillips: GOD DAMMIT!
He kicks at the air, and makes a motion like he’s powerbombing the very air itself. When he’s done powerbombing the atmosphere, he turns on his heel and walks right back into the maze again.
We cut to… the exit.
At this point, several of the participants can be seen making their way out. The first to appear is the pair of Paxton Ray and King Blueberry. At this point, Paxton and Blueberry are very aware of each other, and have been brawling off-and-on for a spell. It has not gone well for Jared the Goblin King however. I mean, his wig is misaligned. And that’s terrible.
As they continue fighting, who should walk in but both of the Novas?
Nova and his future self walk along the walls, close to making it to the red line that marked the finish line of the maze. However, they both bump into King Blueberry and Paxton Ray, and who turn and start punching them instead. It turns into a blind melee. Punches are being thrown without regard of where they might land. Future Nova throws a kick that hits nothing but air. Blueberry accidentally headbutts Future Nova while trying to avoid a punch that he didn’t even know was coming. Paxton covers up as Present Nova tries to pummel him.
And then, who should show up but Garbage Bag Johnny?
He emerges down the corridor in a light jog. Who knows how many times he ran into a wall doing this? We can amuse ourselves with that guessing game later. GBJ enters the fray by running into the mass of bodies in front of him. Realizing that there are in fact people in front of him, Johnny takes a few steps back and leaps into everyone, bowling everyone over.
We cut back inside the maze, where Jonathan Rhine is simply sitting there.
Off in the distance just to Rhine’s right, the minotaur stalks past. It is now carrying two things. One is its chair-axe. The other can only be described as a body. It stops as it walks by the corridor, casting a glance at Rhine. It grunts. It considers. And then it continues on its way.
We cut back to the fracas near the exit to the maze. All five men – Nova, Future Nova, Garbage Bag Johnny, Paxton Ray, and King Blueberry – are crawling. Some are crawling in the wrong direction. That’s both of the Novas. Some are having issue crawling because they’d taken a lot of damage. That’s Blueberry and Paxton. And then there’s one who has his blind eyes on the prize.
The most coveted prize of all.
He manages to crawl over the top of Ray and Blueberry. Both men grab his legs, and try to keep him from making it any further. There’s a struggle, as the three representatives of their teams jockey for position near the finish line. It could be any of the three.
Wait, where’s the fourth team?
The camera cuts to Sid Phillips.
He’s standing outside the maze, his hands on his hips, looking up at the ceiling with blindfolded eyes.
He knows he’s made it to the entrance again.
Sid Phillips: HOW DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING!?
We cut back inside the maze.
Joe Fontaine lies on the ground in a fetal position, unmoving but stained in a red substance. Standing over him, motionless and unceasingly gazing down at him with blindfolded eyes, is a mannequin. A droning sound can be heard as the mannequin gives off a menacing aura.
We cut back to the scrum at the exits. Johnny is being pulled back more and more by the unlikely team of Paxton Ray and King Blueberry. Things are looking dire for him.
That’s when Johnny shouts a battle cry, one that catches the attention of both of the Novas.
Garbage Bag Johnny: Rutabega!
The Novas nod. They know.
The Novas: (in unison) Gazebo!
The Novas turn away from whatever direction they had been walking, and rush in the direction of Johnny’s voice. By this point, Blueberry has managed to crawl up further along Johnny’s body, grabbing him in a waistlock. This frees up Johnny’s other leg to try kicking Paxton off. There’s a lot of fumbling arms, as the Novas find Johnny and pull him along…
…past the finish line.
Nick Stuart: The Garbage Bag Johnny and Nova team have crossed the finish line first! They’ve won the contest!
As the Novas pull Johnny across, they also pull King Blueberry past the finish line.
Richard Parker: Oh. Good. King Blueberry made it, too. Joy.
Behind them, Paxton Ray crosses the finish line on his own.
Nick Stuart: And Paxton Ray crossing the finish line means that Fighting for Nora has also advanced! That means that the Winds of Change, unfortunately, have been eliminated from Survivor! We’re down to three teams!
Richard Parker: Uh, I think we need to muster a search party for Jonathan Rhine and Joe Fontaine, though. Probably Sid Phillips, too. Do you think the MGM Grand has an anti-minotaur SWAT team? Just asking for a friend.
The scene cuts away from Johnny and the Novas raising their arms in celebration, shouting something about a Buick.
And, mercifully, ReVival moves along.
ASK ME ANYTHING
As ReVival comes back from commercial, we join Angie Brooks and Ria Nightshade, sitting at a folding table. Angie has a tablet in her hands.
Angie: Hello PRIMEates and welcome back to ReVival! We put the call out to you on social media earlier this week, giving you the chance to ask Ria Nightshade any question you want! We had a tremendous amount of submissions. Ria’s been kind enough to join us so we can get as many questions answered as we can! Thanks for your time, Ria.
Ria: Yeah, sure, whatever.
Angie: Okay, let’s get started.
Angie taps away on the tablet before reading off the first question.
KTK80 asks: Hey Ria! Huge fan! Can you tell us the significance of your tattoos?
Ria: Damn, leading off with a deep one… So my left sleeve is about who I was. It’s about transitioning. There’s things I liked as I grew up; A Jason mask, a pair of hockey sticks, a Sega Genesis controller… There’s things that bothered me; a busted up beer can for my absent father, a question mark with the male symbol as the period, a colorless rainbow… It’s the past and who I was.
As Ria mentions the different objects, she points them out on her arm.
Ria: My right sleeve is one I’ve been working on of experiences since my transition. A small wrestling ring, a trans flag, a bottle of pills signifying both my struggle and my acceptance of my mental health issues… There’s more things I could list, but we only have so much time here. Good question!
MelBeauMGM asks: Do you want to hang out with my wife and I again? We could go to the park! Or out to eat! So many ideas for great friends like us.
Ria sighs in exasperation and rolls her eyes, shaking her head.
Ria: Melvin… You could’ve just asked me in person! This was supposed to be -you know what? Whatever. Yes Melvin, we’ll hang out again.
MortyKnonymous asks: Don’t you feel it’s shitty that Anna Daniels is being all selfish not wanting to help a fellow human guy out by not preventing something bad from happening in the past?
Ria: Couple things… My sis is awesome, not shitty. She hates most humans. I’m also pretty sure that would be some form of abuse of power. Sorry for your luck, mafia dude.
Ria NightSTAN asks: Hi I just wanted to know what your workout regiment is thank you for doing this!
Ria: Yeah, sure. I’d love to be a smartass and say I don’t work out, but since this is a legit question… 4 sets, 10 reps of 350 lbs on the leg press every other day. I squat 190 lbs for 10 reps on non-leg press days. Dumbbell curls and shoulder presses, more to keep tone than bulk up. I run 5 miles on the elliptical every day. I also do an hour of yoga every day.
SoleBrotherman696969 asks: I think I found your stiletto, I wanna make sure it’s yours. Is it?
Ria: Is it a size 9? Is it black? Is it leather? Does it have a 5 inch heel? If the answer to any of those is no, it’s not mine.
ShippingLordBartholomewIII asks: Hello! I started a subreddit all about our favorite ships in PRIME, on r/PRIMEShippingMaterial! We’re all big fans of RhineXBlueberry. So, I was wondering who your favorite ship in PRIME is! 😀 😀 😀
Ria: I dunno… BranDsay is funny to think about. DeanZer is a good one.
Angie: I’m partial to RiaZen myself.
Ria slowly turns her head to face Angie before she glares at the host.
Ria: You’re skating on thin ice, missy.
TheEn1gma asks: I know not of your political beliefs nor do I care. Admit, Ms. Nightshade, to the world at how you are perpetuating a conspiracy at the global level by changing your hair as a celebrity “endorser” to the hair coloring industry. What is in those hair coloring products? Neurotoxins? Mind altering hallucinogens? Or is it subliminal messaging for the uninformed masses to do thy bidding?
Ria raises an eyebrow and tilts her head for a second.
Ria: … It’s just hair dye, dude.
DefinitelyNotRoderickMcR asks: Have you ever considered buying a reverse mortgage, preferably from one handsome devil named Roderick McRatrick?
Ria: No, because I’m not 75 or a homeowner. I’m considering stabbing you if I happen to see you in the near future, though.
SwooshTheDouche asks: Who do you like in the Stanley Cup playoffs?
Ria’s eyes light up for a moment as she smiles slightly.
Ria: Colorado. I think they have the best balance at all 3 positions of the 4 teams left. I probably just jinxed them.
original_EMMJAYEFF says: As a woman in a male dominated sport, how do you cope with the additional hurdles and barriers put up against you when you’re kicking just as much ass, if not more, than everyone else around you?
Ria: Weird name. Glad your question showed up. Honestly, I’m not the right person to ask this question, since I don’t think I’ve kicked that much ass. Lindsay Troy or Anna Daniels would be better examples. Hell, Angie here or even Cally would be better suited to answer that.
I will say, when it comes to hurdles or barriers… I’m not exactly pragmatic most of the time. I’ll just try to smash through, even if it takes me a few tries. I’m stubborn, if nothing else.
Incontinent Carl asks: What is the appeal of goth culture? Seriously. I don’t get it.
Ria: Some of us are wired differently. We like the macabre, the dark, the ghastly. It just appeals to us. If you don’t get it, it’s not for you to get.
Bolambadore Crunchwrap Supreme asks: How would you apply a Juji Gatame, and if you do, what is the defense for an opponent? Do you know anybody that can help you learn these techniques locally that might be opening a gym in the near future?
Ria looks to Angie for a moment.
Ria: Juji Gatame… That’s a cross Armbreaker, right?
Angie: I believe so, yes.
Ria: Okay. So how would I apply a Juju Bean Gatame? Poorly. Submission wrestling isn’t really my forte. How to defend against it? That depends. I don’t mind fighting dirty, so I’ll rake eyes, bite fingers, whatever I have to do to escape. If you’re a bit more honorable than that… Do your best to lock your hands. Don’t let your opponent get your arm straight or you’re done. If possible, you can try to slide your free arm in-between their legs and actually put them on full guard. If you’re strong enough, you can lift them when your hands are locked and slam them down.
As for gyms… I know Timo is opening one soon. Lindsay Troy has a gym in the area. Another guy I’m familiar with, Nate Robideau, has a gym in the Vegas area. Quite a few to pick from.
Below Average Scott asks: Who are the influences that inspired your storied and impressive career? And what advice can you give to someone who has lost their way and looks up to you?
Ria: I wouldn’t call my career either of those things, but thanks. I dunno, I haven’t really had any. I’ve been doing this for over 10 years, but I’ve kinda always just done my own thing. I picked up stuff from people, sure, but that’s about it. Lately, there’s some people that might end up that way for me… But we’ll see. I guess my mother has always been an influence on my life as a whole.
Someone who lost their way and looks up to me… Tomorrow is always a chance to start over. Had a shitty day? Well tomorrow is a chance to put it behind you. Had a great day? Tomorrow is a chance to keep that positive momentum going. Tomorrow can be whatever you want to make it. Also, don’t look up to me. I’m a shitty role model.
DebSNS#1Fan asks: Hiiiiiii it’s meeeeee, Deb Warenstein! So like, what’s your favorite Urban Decay palette and eyeshadow shade and isn’t Sephora totes better than Ulta?
Ria: I like the Naked3 Eyeshadow palette since it has the father shades I prefer. I’m not terribly picky with my makeup, so if the eyeshadow is a dark shade, I’ll probably like it. Sephora or Ulta? Eh, whichever is having the better sales.
Hans Gruber4ever asks: Settle a spirited debate between a friend and I:. Is Die Hard a Christmas movie or are you a blithering idiot just like him? Hi Mark!
Ria: I’m not a blithering idiot like Mark because Die Hard is obviously a Christmas movie.
Craig Hamburgers asks: hello my name is craig hamburgers and i am a new fan of prime and I’m about to turn seven years old, what are your top three favorite pizza toppings thank you
Ria: I refuse to believe that’s your last name. Anyway, I can’t be too nasty to a kid… I’ll give you my top 3 pizzas I like to have as an alternate. Extra cheese with pepperoni, Italian sausage with pineapple or a meat lovers. You can kiss the whitest part of my ass if you’re gonna bitch about pineapples on pizza.
TotallyNormal666 asks: Hey Ria, ur hot as shit. I know you ain’t preggo yet but when u r, can I have it?
Ria starts cackling. Even Angie has to stifle back a laugh. After a good 30 seconds, Ria finally composes herself.
Ria: Next question.
Little Louis Person asks: If you could be any animal in the jungle, what toppings would you prefer on your pizza?
Ria: What’s with the pizza questions?! Answer is bottle nosed dolphin.
brandeeblaze4daze asks: Like, this,is like amazing!!!?. ok, so rhea your a badass chik right? lolz u totarly r. ?. as a social media influencer I’m torn between 2 new makeup lines, maria la Fontaine or blazzenthap like which would you use an y?
Ria: Spelled my name wrong, but it’s cool. I’m not really familiar with either. I’ll say this; cruelty free is something I’m big on. If either donates any profits to a good cause, that’s cool too. Other than that, just whatever your preference is.
LilDeb269532 asks: do u know a good criminal defense lawyer?
Ria: Shit, I dunno.. You’re better off asking Melvin that.
srslynotaberryboy asks: hi ria this isnt a question but i wanted to let you know that i think ur cool and appreciate you as a person i know sometimes u get down on yourself but plz know that there r people here whove got your back
ps – pls dont stab whoever is asking this question out loud
Angie slowly pans her eyes over to Ria, who gives her a sly smirk.
Ria: You’re safe.
The smile fades as Ria’s face grows dark. Slowly, she inhales and exhales.
Ria: People who have my back… It’s a nice thought. It’s too bad someone fucked that up for everyone else. You know the crappy thing about someone having your back? You begin to trust them, so you stop watching. Makes it that much easier for them to put the knife in! So you can go ahead and say you wouldn’t do that. You might even be genuine when saying it. I’m watching my own back again, just to be safe. My trust has been compromised and that’s a big damn deal to me! Thank The Asshole Luchador for that.
Ria roughly rips the clipped-on mic off her top, tossing the battery pack recklessly onto the table. She bolts to her feet, furiously pushing her chair out of the way as she storms off the makeshift set. Angie is left alone, a look of disappointment on her face as she can only shake her head.
Somewhere in the PRIME-porium
(a stupid name, if we’ve ever heard of one.)
Anna Daniels props her feet on the table…and says nothing. There is only a look she gives to the people that pass by, as if keeping track of who buys and who doesn’t. Someone in there knows that results would equal more sales and more sales mean a movement and you’re thinking it’s so silly, right? But if you watch, actually watch, everything is silly. All is nonsense, especially in this ‘verse. Thus none of this has to have thought and meaning at all. As a matter of fact, who is taping this shit?
Truth is there’s nobody here. There isn’t even a here. This place doesn’t even exist. Everything is a myth. Words on top of words made into wax bodies and literature souls.
And yet, even still, she sits.
And she’s looking at you.
Buy the shirt, cowards.
WORLD’S MOST DANGEROUS SOMETHING
We find ourselves in one of the many, many halls deep inside the MGM Grand where Matt Mills is standing by!
Matt Mills: Hello PRIMEates, Matt Mills here! I’m about to get a word or two from the Masters of the Multiverse, but it seems they’re taking their sweet time arriving.
Matt looks around, unsure what to do until he hears Kenny Freeman calling from offscreen.
Kenny Freeman: Matt, buddy ol’ pal!
With that, the Masters of the Multiverse…B-Team step into the picture, looking quite tired from all the running around. Matt, naturally, picks up on this immediately.
Matt Mills: Is everything alright? I know we saw you and Dangerous Mix going at it earlier tonight, so…
Randall scoffs at this.
Randall Schwartz: We are perfectly fine, Matthew. We, uh, we cut them off at the coffee bar backstage…and what great timing, too, as I really needed that caffeine fix.
Before this interview can proceed any further, we see the very men Randall claims to have cut off step into the picture…neither of them looking very happy about the whole mess.
David Fox: Been lookin’ for you two, fellas.
You can just about hear both men gulp, Randall in particular adjusting his collar…forgetting he isn’t wearing a collared shirt. Kenny is the first to speak up, however.
Kenny Freeman: Oh, uh…hey Dave.
Fox chuckles derisively.
David Fox: Saw you at the little coffee counter before you decided to skedaddle, though I don’t really know WHY you did that… but one of those delicious chai lattes later and I figured me and Mushi here would look for ya and say hello.
The pupils in Randall Schwartz’s eyes really start to narrow, as he definitely understands what the God-Beast said.
David Fox: That’s right, big guy. We’re picking up what you put down at the last ReVival, and we’re happy to accept your cute little challenge.
He raises one hand to his face.
David Fox: The Masters of the Multiverse.
And then, the other.
David Fox: The Dangerous Mix.
And he dramatically clasps the hands together, holding them out for the hapless duo in front of him to see.
David Fox: The Great American Nightmare.
The Masters look at each other, Kenny wearing a look of concern on his face.
Kenny Freeman: Well, that sounds great but uh…
Randall chimes in, a smirk on his face.
Randall Schwartz: You’re on, gents.
Randall offers a hand to shake on it, and Kenny follows suit. David and Mushi are reluctant, but extend their hands…only for the Masters to pull back, a chuckle from Randall before the pair make their exit, leaving us with a confused and slightly frustrated Dangerous Mix before we cut back to ringside!
TAPIOCA PUDDINGS vs. IMPULSE
“Cannonball” by SIRSY fills the arena, and a blue – and – purple strobe combination lights up the entranceway.
As the first verse hits the midway point and the second set of “HEY HEY,” Impulse walks out to the top of the ramp, Calico Rose a step behind him. He stops and looks around, nodding his appreciation, while Cally takes an exaggerated bow.
The song hits the chorus at about the time the duo begin their walk to the ring. Impulse slaps an errant hand here and there, but Cally does her best to greet every fan at ringside, occasionally stopping to catch up to the Marathon Man.
Vince Howard: Ladies and Gentlemen, the following contest is scheduled for one fall! Introducing first, accompanied by Calico Rose, from New York, New York, weighing in at one hundred and ninety-one pounds, he is IIIIIIIMPUUUUULSEEEE!
The fans blow up and on reaching the ringside area, Impulse is up on the ring apron first, holding the ropes for Cally to step through, and she returns the favor. He hands his leather jacket to a ring attendant, and takes off his T-shirt and tosses it into the crowd, ready for action.
Nick Stuart: This ought to be an interesting matchup folks. A man known for his wrestling skill versus one known for…well…not much of anything really.
Richard Parker: Not true, he is known as the third wheel in a really odd love triangle.
Nick Stuart: I wish you weren’t right, but then again here we are.
“Friends of P” by The Rentals pumps into the arena and from behind the curtain, Tapioca Puddings stumbles through followed by an SR71-black electric market scooter being driven by Muriel puddings looking resplendent in “hot plaid” yoga pants and a shirt that is both a size too small on some places and at least two sizes too large in others. There is a distorted and picked iron-on image of Joe Camel on the front.
Vince Howard: And his opponent, accompanied by Muriel Puddings, out of Chubbuck, Idaho, standing five foot ten and weighing in at one hundred and seventy-one pounds, TAAAAAAPIOOOOCAAAAA PUUUUUDDINGS!
Tapioca is driven on like a sled dog before the whip of the musher and stops in terror before reaching the ring. Muriel rams him in the back of the ankles with her cart and he howls before climbing to the ring apron and latching himself onto the ropes with both his arms and legs.
As the bell rings, Impulse looks visibly confused as Tapioca is clinging to the ropes with both arms and legs, refusing to let go. Impulse shakes his head and petitions to Elvis Nixon to instruct Tapioca to wrestle, but the young Puddings is having none of it.
Nick Stuart: This is a first, I have never seen someone, even Tapioca Puddings, refuse to wrestle.
Richard Parker: Is it really a surprise though? This kid is as tough as a cooked spaghetti noodle and has about as much flavor as one too.
Nick Stuart: That may be true, but this is a wrestling match and there is no wrestling. How am I supposed to call the action when there isn’t any action, Richard?
Richard Parker: Like this…
Richard stands up and cups his mouth with his hands.
Richard Parker: BOOOOOO!
Some of the fans start to boo, but many more start to cheer, hoping to encourage Tapioca on. Impulse throws his hands in the air, refusing to beat up an unwilling participant. Cally looks concerned at ringside and says something inaudible to the cameras to Impulse. He gestures to the still white as a new pair of Hanes underwear Tapioca Puddings and shrugs while pleading a case to her.
Muriel wheels up in her scooter and starts hollering at Tapioca. She pulls out a cartoonishly large megaphone airbrushed with a nude, but thankfully blurred out by the camera, Garbage Bag Johnny on the side of it with the line “Paint me like one of your French Girls” stenciled in poorly.
Muriel Puddings: Come on you chud! I have crust in my underwear more virile than you! Get out there and quit embarrassing us!
She pulls her taser from what could only be described as her underboob and starts crackling it in the air while cackling at her younger brother. Impulse is now asking his opponent to let go and face him as the ropes begin to shake dramatically from Tapioca as he clings to them in abject horror of the situation he has found himself in. Elvis Nixon has no choice but to administer a count…of some kind…in desperation to get the increasingly hostile situation to subside.
Elvis Nixon: Come on Tapioca, you have to wrestle…ONE!
Muriel Puddings: I didn’t become the Chubbuck Spud Princess and drag you down to this ring to watch this. Come here, I’m gonna light you up!
She struggles to get out of the chair with her taser in her right hand while her left digs out a front wedgie.
Impulse: Hey, Tapioca, I’ll make this quick. Just come in there and I’ll tap you out quickly. Painless, I promise.
Richard Parker: BOO THIS MAN!
Elvis Nixon: TWO!
Muriel Puddings: You pile of monkey nuts…
Nick Stuart: Tapioca is shaking the entire top rope in terror!
Impulse: Come on man!
Elvis Nixon: THREE! You have to show me something before five or I have to call this!
Tapioca clenches his teeth and squeezes his eyes shut for all he has. He can’t handle much more. The voices circle around him in his head, mocking him, rending any small sense of pride he carries deep inside, even though it was just a small child that had been beaten relentlessly in his youth.
Impulse: TAPIOCA, HEY MAN, CAN YOU HEAR ME?
Richard Parker: BOOOOOO!
Nick Stuart: No action to call!
Elvis Nixon: FOUR!
Muriel Puddings: You aren’t fit to be a spunk mopper! Come here you little…
A hush falls on the arena, as if all time stands still for a moment. Even if it is only in Tapioca’s mind that it happens.
Tapioca Puddings opens his eyes and looks at his sister.
Tapioca Puddings: No.
Muriel Puddings: What do you mean n…
Tapioca Puddings makes like Tommy in the Kenny Rogers classic “Coward of The County” with twenty-eight years of crawling bottled up inside of him. He let go of the ropes and he stared at his sister dead in the eyes as Impulse reached out to finally engage the young Puddings by grabbing his shoulder. Tapioca grabs Impulse with a wrist lock and turns in one movement, contorting his joint and dropping the bigger man to his knee.
Nick Stuart: Action! There is action to call!
Impulse looks shocked, but quickly regains his composure and rolls through the wrist lock. He stands and engages in a greco-roman style tie up then reaches for an ankle pick. As Tapioca sees him reach, he steps back with his lead leg and Irish whips The Marathon Man into the ropes. As Impulse bounds off, Tapioca leapfrogs him gracefully.
Nick Stuart: I can’t believe this! We’ve gone from a purely terrified Tapioca to a leapfrogging joint contorting…wrestler!
Richard Parker: I credit my booing for getting this match going.
Impulse comes off the ropes and Tapioca meets him with a running knee. He points at Muriel as he reaches up and drops a clubbing forearm with all he has on Impulse. Muriel holds her chest like she has been deeply wounded and lets the megaphone drop to her side. Impulse pushes the invigorated Tapioca off of himself and steps aside to reassess the situation with a concerned looking Cally at ringside.
Both competitors meet in the center of the ring and circle before engaging in a classic collar and elbow. Impulse reaches forward into a front facelock which drops Tapioca to the ground on one knee. The smaller man steps up and reaches to clasp Impulse’s hands, he swings his shoulders and steps out, controlling Impulse’s shoulder before swinging around into a hammerlock.
Impulse hooks Pudding’s right arm with his own and breaks the hold. He then steps to the side and grabs the smaller man in a side headlock. Tapioca hooks his hands around Impulse’s body, but The Marathon Man turns deftly, moving his headlock to the other arm which frees him to spin out and grab a hammerlock of his own.
Nick Stuart: Magnificent wrestling from Impulse and…Tapioca Puddings?
Richard Parker: I guess Tapioca is bound and determined to show Muriel he isn’t a wastrel!
Impulse uses his left hand to reach up and grab Tapiocas neck and guide him with force around in a half circle. As Puddings spins, he is caught right back where he started in another front facelock. Tapioca tries to reach and clasp his hands again, but as he does, Impulse grabs under his armpits and spins Tapioca into a backslide position. He kneels and drives Tapioca’s shoulders to the mat. Elvis Nixon is there quickly for the count.
KICKOUT by Tapioca!
Nick Stuart: That was a beautiful exchange with Impulse getting the better and showing his superior grappling technique!
Impulse pops up and reaches for Tapioca, but the younger man headbutts him and leaps up, grabbing his opponent in a reverse neckbreaker position over his left knee. He lifts his right arm up and lariats Impulse onto his bent knee dropping the favorite to the mat with brutal force!
Nick Stuart: GTR! GOTO REVOLUTION BY TAPIOCA PUDDINGS!
Richard Parker: I think you mean BLOOD PUDDINGS! Where is this aggression coming from?
Impulse rolls on the mat and Tapioca seems completely at a loss for what to do next, not having been in a dominating position before. Muriel starts screaming through her megaphone to pin his opponent. He is still upset and begins to argue with his sister at ringside.
While the Puddings are arguing with one another, Impulse shakes the cobwebs from his head and with some encouragement from Cally, gets to his feet. He walks over to the area where Tapioca is still arguing with his sister and begins to take Tapioca’s side to let him wrestle his own match!
Muriel reaches deep into her ill-fitting hot plaid yoga pants and pulls out a pink set of brass knuckles that read “MUSSY” across them. She loads up and takes a swing at Impulse for trying to interject in her business and support her brother respecting himself. He easily ducks, but in the process, she hits TAPIOCA, instead breaking his jaw!
BUUUT…as she does, the momentum of her giant megaphone takes her off the apron and she falls with a thud as her head bounces off the ring steps. She lays, out cold, on the mat outside of the ring. Elvis Nixon looks confused at what has just transpired and waves off the match in Impulse’s favor due to outside interference.
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: And your winner…IIIIIMPUUUUUULSE!
Impulse kneels down next to Tapioca Puddings and checks on the out cold competitor. He calls Elvis Nixon over and motions that the fallen competitor needs medical help. Impulse has a look of pure wonder on his face as the medical team runs into the ring.
Nick Stuart: What a turn of events! Impulse is legitimately shocked at every bit of what has transpired and I can’t say I blame him!
Richard Parker: I think it is fair to say I am not one to be at a loss for words, and yet here I sit not knowing what to say. It’s not right, Nick. It’s not right.
Nick claps his partner on the shoulder.
Nick Stuart: Maybe it’s best we don’t spend too much time analyzing these events and move on with the show.
Richard nods solemnly.
Nick Stuart: And with that ladies and gentlemen, we roll on with ReVival!
WHERE THERE’S SMOKE
Fading in from the commercial, we open on a tight shot on the face of Simon Tillier, standing backstage and looking straight into the camera.
Simon Tillier: Welcome back, PRIME fans! Still plenty of action left on this ninth edition of ReVival, but right now, let’s take a moment to hear from one of the stars scheduled to compete later tonight!
The shot zooms out to reveal two men standing nearby the junior reporter.
Simon Tillier: Standing here with me is the man who has quickly distinguished himself here in PRIME as one of the most detestable deviants to ever lurk out of the locker room… the self-proclaimed “Escape Artist” Rezin!
Before the camera is Rezin, his ever-paranoid eyes lost in a thousand-yard stare. At his shoulder towers the Viking account Ollie Arsvinnar, taking every opportunity to mug to the camera.
Simon Tillier: Rezin? I see you’re wearing a shirt! For once! Or at least, part of one!
He gestures to Rezin’s chest. The Goat Bastard looks down at the brand new “Anarchy ‘R’” t-shirts that he happens to be wearing, hanging loose with the sides cut out. Ollie is wearing one himself, perfectly fit to his muscular frame
Simon Tillier: Well, I suppose now you won’t have to go around defacing anyone else’s shirts, which I have to personally admit, is something of a relief!
Rezin’s laser-focused stare into the void slowly works its way over to Simon, as if to say “try me”. Then Ollie nudges him from behind. Rezin’s eyes roll in irritation, and robotically recites pre-approved words through visibly clenched teeth.
Rezin: (growling) …YES, Simon… and these shirts are available for purchase now, at the PRIME-Porium and all major online retailers. Come be a part of “the ReZistance”, for only fourteen-ninety-nine…
Ollie Arsvinnar: That’s right! And a big shout out to Timo Bolambo for doing the work on these! Buy one today, and prove to the world that even YOU can be…
The Viking spins, and uses his thumbs to draw attention to the six letters printed on the back of his shirt, which he reads aloud.
Ollie Arsvinnar: “TOO – PUNK – ROCK – FOR – PRO – WRESTLING!”
The smile on Ollie’s face as he turns himself back around to face the camera practically stretches from ear to ear. But then he sees the aggravated Rezin glaring up at him, and suddenly gets a sense that he’s done something wrong.
Ollie Arsvinnar: …what? Doesn’t hurt to put it ourselves out there a bit.
Rezin groans, and redirects his ire to the junior reporter standing near.
Rezin: …so can we get this over with?
Tillier awkwardly clears his throat and pushes forward.
Simon Tillier: Well then, Rezin… did you have anything to say about tonight’s match?
The Goat Bastard scoffs and shakes his head.
Rezin: Nah, I think I’ve already said whatever needed to be said on the subject of Anna Daniels. All that’s left is to go in that ring and pay ‘em the painful reminder that they ain’t as untouchable as they think they are.
Simon Tillier: What sort of statement are you hoping to make tonight, going into Great American Nightmare, where you’re said to be challenging for the Five Star Championship?
Rezin grumbles as he considers his answer.
Rezin: What’s the point in trynna make a “statement” when there’s nobody out there willin’ to listen, Simon? The people of PRIME has already made up their minds on me. Nothing I’ve willingly tried on my own has done anything to change that opinion. How is tonight any different? A win for me would just be seen as a fluke to them. They don’t see me as a wrestler. Not a “real” wrestler, anyhow. All they want to see is a filthy burnout enjoying a good luck streak, on his way to crowd-pleasing ass-kicking.
He shrugs, and casually lights up a spliff.
Rezin: So, to hell with making statements. To hell with trying to change minds. From now on, I’m just gonna do what I do. Hasn’t failed me yet. Here in two weeks, when the whole world sees me holding that Five Star Championship over my head, it’ll be a lot harder for all the high-and-mighty elitist scum to dismiss what I’m doin’ in this place.
He puffs a cloud of smoke into the junior reporter’s face. Simon wears a sour-milk expression as he covers his nose.
Rezin: They shouldn’t have ignored the smoke… cause here soon, they’ll be sitting in the fire.
The Escape Artist turns and leaves without another word, leaving a trail of smoke in his wake. Ollie nervously waves a goodbye to Simon and points at his shirt again in his final seconds on camera before following after Rezin. Left alone, Tillier breathes a sigh of relief.
Backstage–and this ain’t no set, bud. In fact, it would be hard to tell you exactly where this is–the walls look familiar to the frequent observer, but where we might normally find combatants ready to rumble, we instead find a motley assortment of babes in various styles of dress, all of which could aptly be prefaced with “sexy.” Librarian? Sexy Librarian. Goth tattoo artist? Sexy Goth tattoo artist. Latvian national dress? Buddy, it’s Sexy Latvian time. And at the center of all of these various electrons are two men. Blonde and Brunette. Stallion and Stud. Proton and Neutron. Solid Gold Rock and Roll–in the flesh. Trent pulls himself from the embrace of a (sexy) actuary and extends his arms wide, his considerable wingspan filling the frame.
Boots: Hey hey hey, baby baby bay-bay! I know all you tasty Courtesans out there in TV-land and you are just shivering in anticipation of more action, but catch the alley-oop here, suckle quads…are you really?
He smiles a smile that’s all millions of dollars and sin, both tax-free. He even winks–in another time, another life, Trent would be the premier Albanian exotic dancer and underwear model. As is, he’s fine with being a golden god.
Boots: I know, I know. Bound to be at least a small percentage of you want to see The Hollywood Bruvs…Boogie, what’s the math?
Emerging from the scrum is the boy, the man, the beefcake, the absolute unit himself: Barry Delgado. His existence seems to strain at reality itself, to say nothing of his pants, which are hitting critical mass in specific areas. He strides over, pantomiming counting on his fingers.
Boogie: Ha, what, low double digits?
Boots: And the people who wanna see Dangerous Mix?
Boogie: Single digits, golden voice!
They exchange a fist bump.
Boots: Ay-yay-yow! But lest you think we took up some of this precious television time just to point out how unliked those other teams are, we actually do have a point. Boogie man with the boogie plan–give them that funky backbone, thoroughbred!
Delago steps to the forefront, leaving Trent to whisper some sweet nothings to a sweet nothing. He rubs his hands together, grinning. The mustache is…perfection.
Boogie: ‘Open challenge’ seems so…passe. ‘Throwing down the gauntlet’–what are we, Bill Wallace? We hear the accolades and we see the adoration, it does not go unnoticed. But these other folks are…eh! But how are you gonna know that unless someone gives you that truth like the magic mirror? Who’s the hottest team in the land?
From behind, the only tiem Electric Boots sings backup.
Boots: Solid Gold, baby!
Boogie: Who’s the sexiest pair of dudes stalking these hallways?
Boots: Stallion and the Stud, sweet honey!
Boogie: Who is everybody duckin’ because they don;t wanna taste the pure Rock and Roll fury?!
Boots: Electric Boots and the Boogie Woogie Man!
Boogie: So what do we do, Trent? We call ’em all out by name? Nah, waste of time. Cause we aren’t talking to any one of you and we aren’t about to let anyone feel left out. Nah, this is just so all them other crews know that we’re about to treat these shows like it’s West Side Story. Like it’s The Warriors. Players…come out to play!
Trent executes an aggressively flamboyant rooster strut, cock of the walk baby, and executes a spin move before exclaiming in a pure angelic trumpet burst.
Boots: Ooooh baby, come out to play-yay!
Stomp, stomp, stomp.
Boots: You hear me, babydolls? Come out to plaaaaay-yay! You got a fightin’ bone in your spines, then I wanna see you come battle time! 2 Become 1? About 2 Become None, baby! Winds of Change? Too far out your range, dudes! Give us champions, give us scrubs, aint no discrimination to who can catch this love! Long-standing partners, we’ll take it. Two randos ya pulled from central casting? Mama feed us! I wanna see them all, across the ring from the Stallion and the Stud, the pinnacles of Rock and Roll and the pinnacles of this tag team show–timeless, bold, Solid Gold!
Boogie slaps him on the shoulders and they both laugh before returning to the throng. Not just being welcomed, but being cheered, simply for wading into a sea of humanity full of hangers on and the easily impressed. Cold drinks are provided. Life is good. We cut away…
THE HOLLYWOOD BRUVS vs. DANGEROUS MIX
Nick Stuart: And folks, we are back with this tag team contest in progress, The Hollywood Bruvs taking on The Dangerous Mix! Jimmy Turnbull might have his hands full with this one…
Richard Parker: Because the Bruvs might go making like a tree and leave?
Nick Stuart: We know that this has been a real point of contention with PRIME officials and the Bruvs since the return of PRIME, with Lindsay Troy laying out ramifications in no uncertain terms. And they are in the ring tonight with a team trying to get back on track after their elimination from Survivor as well as not coming up victorious on ReVival 7 against 2become1 and The Masters of the Multiverse B-Team.
Richard Parker: You can’t fault guys who want to protect themselves, and their Hollywood looks…
Nick Stuart: Odd statement coming from you Richard. You’re all for competition and doing whatever it takes.
Richard Parker: Hey, what can I say, sometimes, you have to look out for yourself.
Nick Stuart: Turnbull gave these men their instructions and it was…I feel like the Bruvs were already trying to leave. But here we are, Mikey Unlikely starting out with David Fox in the ring, circling each other, these two have impressive resumes all their own, with both having made their mark in Defiance. Decades of experience here. They’re circling each other, Fox going for a collar and elbow tie up and Unlikely evades, slicking back his hair as he seems to be mocking Fox for even trying to touch him.
Richard Parker: The Bruvs have both been World Champions. I’m sure they have guest appearances and the like they have to be ready for. And you think you can just go in there and grab a tie up and get into a wrestling match? Pfft!
The larger men of both teams, Jesse Fredericks Kendrix and Mushigihara, are in their assigned corners, tag ropes in hand. Mushi is bent over, hand extended, wanting to feast. Kendrix is nonchalant, as if he would rather be anywhere but here. As Unlikely struts, Fox shoots in, grabbing a hammerlock on him, wrenching upward, all before getting flipped over with a head whip. Both men shoot back to their feet, with Unlikely not happy with being touched, charging forward, only to get an arm drag sending him across the ring for his trouble. Another blind charge and another arm drag. When Unlikely gets up this time, he his smashed with a rolling elbow that shoots him into his corner, causing the blind tag to JFK. Surprised, Kendrix steps into the ring, and when Fox tries to tangle up with him, he gets a poke to the eye for his troubles.
Nick Stuart: Oh that was blatant!
Richard Parker: Got to be a step ahead!
Turnbull quickly gets in the face of JFK, admonishing him, but the Bruv just pushes the junior official away, grabbing onto the smaller Fox with a quick arm hold. Mushigihara seems to be amped to the gills, wanting to get in the ring, pounding his chest, the fans wanting to see the God-Beast get in there and wreck things.
Kendrix fires off a chop, impressed with himself when it connects. David Fox, though, stands up straight, not even rubbing his chest, and quickly grabs JFK with a muay thai clinch, firing off a trio of heavy, heavy knee strikes into the stomach of the Bruv. On the break, he clobbers JFK with a heavy roundhouse kick, flattening him, and looking to his tag partner, Fox sees how animated he is. He storms over, tagging in Mushigihara, pointing towards the Hollywood Bruvs. He roars.
Nick Stuart: Uh oh. I didn’t think you could say that on television!
Richard Parker: Especially on the ACE Network!
The Hollywood Bruvs look at the massive Mushigihara as he steps into the ring, and, thinking better of things, wave their hands off, and both leave the ring.
Nick Stuart: They’re doing it again!
Richard Parker: I mean, did you hear that beast? Would you just stand there after what he said about what he’d do to your insides?!
The loud booing of the fans cuts through Jimmy Turnbull’s count, all as the Bruvs start walking toward the ramp, sick of this match. Their backs turned, they don’t see the what is coming for them; The Dangerous Mix is out, angry, and not about to put up with this. The quick David Fox grabs hold of Mikey Unlikely by the hair, turning him around and tossing him hard into the guardrail. And while JFK turns around at the commotion, he can’t help but see from the corner of his eye the massive Mushigihara, throwing his entire body weight in a splash, causing Kendrick to topple violently to the ramp. Mushi scoops up JFK and slams him back onto the steel, all before picking him up over his shoulder and taking him to the ring.
Nick Stuart: Oh wow! The fans are going nuts over seeing the Dangerous Mix taking the fight to the Bruvs! It’s like they’ve been waiting weeks to see someone do this!
Richard Parker: This isn’t fair!
Launching JFK into the ringpost like a dart, Mushigihara lets out another roar of “OSU” before picking up Kendrick and tossing him into the ring like a bag of trash. Stepping in, JFK has somehow stumbled to his feet, spaghetti legged, hands up like he’s going to fight, but nobody is home. Mushigihara smashes him with a big boot, while on the outside, David Fox is pinning Mikey Unlikely against the guardrail, launching kicks to his downed body, making sure that he is in no position to try and make a save.
Blasted with a big boot, JFK tries to get up, and is helped to that position by Mushi. The worst thing possible.
Nick Stuart: Uranage!
Richard Parker: I think the center of the ring might have been caved in on that one!
Nick Stuart: Mushigihara lifts Kendrix again! Another Uranage spikes him off the canvas! Cover!
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: Your winners…by pinfall…THE DAAAAAAAANGEROUS! MIX!
Fox has broken away from Mikey Unlikely and is back in the ring, trying to keep the God-Beast from continuing the onslaught on the broken form of Kendrix. Within a few seconds, the God-Beast has his hands up, only to dust them off and smile. Fox gives him a big hug, and Mushi lifts his tag partner onto his shoulders, ready to celebrate.
Nick Stuart: An impressive win here by the Dangerous Mix! And a reminder…don’t get on the wrong side of these two…they pack quite the explosive punch!
We fade in from commercial back in the MGM Grand Garden Arena, the camera focused on the center of the ring. Standing in the ring is the impeccably dressed Angelica Brooks, microphone in hand, the fans cheering, a few making unseemly cat calls that are quickly admonished by those around them. She stands up straight, drawing the microphone to her lips, a smirk plastered across her face.
Angelica Brooks: Ladies and gentleman, the Universal Champion, Brandon Youngblood.
BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD
SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE
LET THE GALAXY BURN
With the clarion call for war that is Bloodsport (World Domination) by HEALTH blaring, the fans stand at their feet, roaring in anticipation of The Tower of Babel. He doesn’t take long, storming from the back, dressed in street clothes and with the Universal Championship belt slung over his shoulder. The audience is going full tilt, rattling the roof in their cheers as the Last Diamond begins power walking down the ramp.
Nick Stuart: And here he is!
Those with an observant eye catch Youngblood’s form fitting black shirt; it is simple, nondescript, save for the golden emblem logon near the collar and the bold lettering over the chest. ‘BEAT CANCER’. He makes his way from the ramp to ringside, then up the steps, all before stepping through the ropes and making a beeline for the nearest corner, climbing to the second rope and looking out to the crowd. Soaking in the adulation, the Universal Champion repeats this at each of the corners, then bounces down to his feet to meet up with Angelica Brooks at the center of the ring.
It is several moments before the cacophony of sound dies down, as does his music. When it finally does, Angelica looks up at the massive form of the Champion, ready to speak.
Angelica Brooks: Looks like your knee is not worse for wear.
Brandon Youngblood: Knee isn’t as bad as everyone thought, huh?
He lightly raises his left leg, giving it a playful wiggle, giving a big smile before continuing on.
Brandon Youngblood: Before I get too far along, just wanted to say, if you go on the PRIMEporium, there’s going to be a limited run of these shirts for sale–
YOU BEAT CANCER!
YOU BEAT CANCER!
YOU BEAT CANCER!
Brandon Youngblood: –as I was saying, there’s going to be a limited print run of these shirts available for purchase…including a special number of one hundred that I’ll be personally signing and dating. Now…I think it’s important to tell you where the money is going to go for these…I spoke with Lindsay Troy and we both want to use all the proceeds to help an amazing cause…St. Jude Children’s Research Hospitals do such incredible work with families and children suffering from rare forms of cancer…every cent donated, every bit of it, it goes to treatment, it goes to food, it goes to housing for families…
Another big cheer from the crowd stops Brandon in his tracks for a moment.
Brandon Youngblood: These are such difficult times, and nobody should have to face them without someone in their corner. There’s a ton of people out there Fighting For Nora, and having met her at the Fighting For Nora Gala in New Orleans, let me tell you, Paxton Ray…no offense to you…she’s a stronger fighter than you can ever hope of being. Me too. She’s a real Champion.
LET’S GO NORA!
LET’S GO NORA!
LET’S GO NORA!
Brandon Youngblood: But there’s a lot of families out there that don’t have a platform, that don’t have a place like PRIME that can support them. These families…those kids…they’re unsung heroes. So I want to make sure they know…the PRIME family sees you…they’re rooting for you…and if something like this can help in any small way, then we’re gonna do it.
Angelica Brooks: An amazing gesture…and I can tell everyone, from personal experience, St. Jude is one of the most amazing charities in the world.
She nods her head before moving on.
Angelica Brooks: I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you, Brandon, after Culture Shock, when you won the Almasy Invitational and became Universal Champion, so many people wanted to know what was next. And they got their answer in the form of a rematch with the then top contender, Cancer Jiles. After everything that has happened between you two, after two intensely fought matches, after all the mind games he and the Bandits put you through, do you respect the challenge Jiles represented for you?
There is a loud mixture of boos coming from the crowd from the question. Youngblood is pondering how he wants to address this, but then just takes it on.
Brandon Youngblood: There’s a lot of things I’d like to say right now. A man fights his way through a tournament to make it to the finals, you have to respect that, right? No matter what, that person has to bring it every time out, show out every time they step in the ring. And if you want the honest truth? The competitor? I can’t say I don’t respect the accomplishment. But Cancer Jiles? That man respects nothing. Respects nobody. He walked into PRIME calling it beneath him, second rate, second class. We’re all supposed to hang off his every word. Be happy he’d grace us with his presence.
His expression is stern. Focused.
Brandon Youngblood: If he was standing in this ring with you right now, he’d be brushing his shoulder off, justifying it all, still disrespecting everything and everybody. He wanted the worst for me? He got it. And I don’t respect him. I’ll never respect him. He wanted to beat me just so I wouldn’t be the Universal Champion anymore. Here’s a newsflash for him and for everyone else; I walked back into this company already a Hall of Famer. My legacy speaks for itself in these walls. And as long as I’m holding this?
Taking the Universal Championship into his hand, he lifts it upward.
Brandon Youngblood: He’s got no chance. Because everytime he comes around me? I’ll beat him. He tries to throw barbs? I’ll throw him on top of his head. He wants to try to injure me? I’ll make those chiropractor and hyperbaric chamber bills of his keep climbing. He wants my blood? Well…he got it…but not until after cracked his insides open and made him spit up his guts.
He slings the Championship belt back over his shoulder, adjusting it.
Brandon Youngblood: Cancer Jiles is a threat to every single person on this roster. Hell, he’s a threat to the referees and managers and staff. But it all comes down to this; whenever the big bad wolf starts stomping around and gets too big for his own damn britches, the Suplex Daddy is going to come and beat his ass and put him right at the back of the line, where he belongs.
The fans roar at the notion.
Brandon Youngblood: Now whether he stays there or not? That’s not my call. That’s on Lindsay Troy and the decision makers. We have a ranking system for a reason. But I’ll tell you this; this ain’t the Bandits show. Send up the signal flares for the Octane…SOS…it’s sunk. And me? I’d rather focus on the here and now. Test myself against fresh competition.
Angelica Brooks: That fresh competition now has you set to face off against the official number one contender, Impulse, at Great American Nightmare. But we all know, this match-up isn’t fresh blood.
Brandon Youngblood: No it isn’t. But it is unfinished business.
A slight pause.
Angelica Brooks: Now being able to fully focus on the challenge of Impulse, what do you have to say about the challenger leading up to this titanic wrestling match up? This isn’t a case of bad blood, but the fans, myself included, know how the last contest between you ended…there was a lot of controversy there…how do you intend to rectify that and put an end to the controversy?
His posture shifts to one of ease. Conversational.
Brandon Youngblood: You’re right. Impulse…this isn’t a match about bad blood. Or disrespect. I respect you, Randall. I respect you a helluva lot. Since that night at ReVival 5, you’ve taken on all challengers, answered the bell. You’ve beaten Anna Daniels and Teddy Palmer and Julian Bathory. You’ve defeated the Anglo Luchador. Tonight, you had Tapioca and you won that. There’s nobody else in this company who has a target on their back like you have since that night…
He uses his free hand to point a thumb at himself.
Brandon Youngblood: Save me.
Another pause, another cheer.
Brandon Youngblood: Randall…you’ve controlled your future. You’ve taken the challenges laid out and snuffed them out. All by your own hand. And that takes a helluva competitor to do that when the lights are on. You bring your talent, your experience, your momentum…you have your fans and you and Cally…you’re beloved figures. PRIME having you representing its very best? That’s good for everyone.
And as the fans go to chanting for Impulse, Brandon nods his head in acknowledgment.
Brandon Youngblood: And I may be the Universal Champion, I may be undefeated, I may have defended this belt, but something keeps eating at me, Randall. Keeps gnawing at me. I could say that on ReVival 5, I overlooked you. I didn’t take your challenge seriously. I could say I came unprepared and got caught. But that’d be a lie. And I’m not going to lie to you. On that night, you took me to a limit few ever have. And when it was all said and done, my hand was raised, but I didn’t beat you. I advanced, but it was because of your mistake, not what I had done.
He stops his statement, readjusting himself, thinking, before beginning to speak again.
Brandon Youngblood: So I ask myself…am I truly the Universal Champion? I hold the belt. Everyone looks up to me as the standard in PRIME. But I have to ask myself…razor thin margin…if I don’t get my shoulder off that mat in time…is it you standing here instead? Am I the one clawing and scratching to get back in the mix? I think we both know the answer to that. I think you’d have won the championship at Culture Shock. I think you beat Cancer Jiles. Everything you’ve done since coming to PRIME, it’s by your own hand…
He looks over toward his Championship belt.
Brandon Youngblood: Even the fact that I’m holding this championship right now.
A light smattering of boos. Undeterred, the Tower of Babel continues.
Brandon Youngblood: It’s why at Great American Nightmare…it’s not for blood…it’s not for championships…it’s not for pride. It’s about closure. For me. Getting those five minutes. Taking the control from your hands into mine. Defining the Diamond Age not in blemishes or controversy…but in declaration. I’d say it isn’t personal, Randall…but for two duelists like us? We both know that isn’t true. We’re going to go into that ring on July 1st and we’re going to go to war. We’re going to leave every bit of what we have in the ring. And in the end…when it’s all said and done…we’ll both have our answers. We’ll both have our say. And from it?
Standing completely straight, The Last Diamond puts emphasis on his closing words.
Brandon Youngblood: A true Champion will be born.
Bloodsport (World Domination) by HEALTH begins to play again, the Universal Champion raising his title skyward, Angelica Brooks nodding as the scene moves elsewhere.
The camera pans up to a podium in the Studio Ballroom, the same one where at ReVival 5, the Anglo Luchador gave a press conference about how he did not eat IcyHot. The setup is similar. There are rows of seats, mostly filled with fans and some MGM Grand employees on their coffee breaks. Notably, Baron von Blackberry is front and center, wearing a lanyard that contains a piece of yellow lined notepad with “Daily Banana,” written in Sharpie. Randall Schwartz and Kenny Freeman are embedded in the middle rows, conversing among each other. The camera tracks the crowd and then follows back behind the curtain, where a nervous Anglo Luchador stands dressed in a finely tailored suit, holding an index card in his hand. His brother Mikey, dressed in a golf shirt and khakis, stands beside him.
TAL: I still don’t know how this is all going to go over. Everyone saw what happened with Ria last week. This was supposed to be a debate, but getting a hold of GREAT SCOTT is like trying to herd cats. What am I doing? F…
Mikey: Yo, bruh, chill out. You’re doing fine. Everyone makes mistakes. You got this jawn.
TAL: It’s just a lot to take in right now.
Mikey: Yeah, I know. But you’se one of the top guys in this company.
TAL: Am I?
A production assistant comes back to where the brothers are standing.
PA: Mr. Luchador, you’re on.
TAL: Here goes nothing.
The old luchador walks out onto the stage and takes the podium.
TAL: Friends, PRIMEates, coworkers, lend me your ears. Four score and seven years ago, uh, professional wrestling was a carny business run by carny people doing carny things. Now, in the modern age, modern problems require modern solutions. Those solutions? Speaking softly but carrying a big stick. And that big stick is a weapon that I will use if I am elected, along with the absent Ms. Nightshade, to be in the Intense Championship Match at Great American Nightmare.
The old luchador notices Baron von Blackberry straining to get his attention with a raised hand.
TAL: It’s not time for questions yet, Baron.
Baron von Blackberry: FOOL! I am merely stretching my arm in an effort to keep myself great, and mighty, and ABSOLUTELY LIMBER! How dare you call into question my exercise routine on this, the most DIABOLICAL of days!
TAL: I know you have a question, just spill it. You never not have a question. I know you.
Baron von Blackberry: …Very well. Have you considered using an ancient solution for your modern problems? Perhaps you should employ a catapult. I know plenty of fools who would make for excellent projectiles. Some of them practice Scientology.
TAL: Well, to address your concerns here, while I have thought of using a catapult, I don’t have the funds to have one built that will be adequate for our arena. Read my lips, no new taxes. If you want to know what is my solution for the most pressing problem I have, then it’ll have to depend on what the definition of the word “is” is.
Jax Mollineaux: (Seated in the front row, without anyone noticing he walked in) Hello, Mr. Luchador, this is Jax Mollineaux, INDEPENDENT JOURNALIST, and I have a question.
TAL: This isn’t a press conference, and you don’t have diplomatic immunity like Baron does. Shut up.
Jax Mollineaux: ignoring him Are you AFRAID that Balaam will interfere in your match, or have you accepted that you are a sinner in the eyes of Hoyt Williams and will accept your flogging before, during, and/or after the match.
TAL: Look, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. I am not afraid of Balaam because I have not thought about him in weeks. He is not my opponent at Great American Nightmare. Ria Nightshade is, and she will be a formidable opponent, one who deserves, no, commands all of my attention.
Jax Mollineaux: Interesting deflection…
TAL: Mikey, can you get this guy outta here?
Mikey emerges from the back, grabs the INDEPENDENT JOURNALIST by his collar, and shuttles him out of the Studio Ballroom.
Jax Mollineaux: YOU’LL BE HEARING FROM MY LAWYERS ABOUT THIS.
TAL: Anyway, back to what I’m trying to…
Just then, Randall Schwartz interrupts, standing up with his hand raised.
Randall Schwartz: Yes, hello, hi, I have a question for the Angelic Lunchable.
Kenny jumps up beside him, whispering something in Randall’s ear.
Randall Schwartz: Right, sorry, The Anglo Luchador. Anyway, very important question sir…where is the free food? I was under the impression there were snacks.
TAL: Why does everyone think I’m buying food for them, goddammit. Actually, I have a question for you, both of you, actually. You’re multiversal, right? Like you know what happens in a bunch of universes.
The Masters of the Multiverse (B-Team) look at the old luchador, stone-faced.
TAL: Can you tell me, in how many of those universes is the lead singer of Fozzy ALSO a professional wrestler? It’s been bugging the hell out of me.
Randall responds without missing a beat.
Randall Schwartz: You mean the Muppet bear that’s also a comedian? That’s the only Fozzy I know…or acknowledge.
TAL: You mean, the band, Fozzy, the one that sang my old entrance song? They have this song “Judas” that’s everywhere now? Ah, you know what, forget it, you’d probably be violating all kinds of spacetime laws like the old guys from two shows were. I can’t get any answers around here. Please clap.
No one claps, not even the trained seal from the animal show taking place the next night.
TAL: This was a mistake…
Baron von Blackberry once again is either stretching out his hand or trying to ask another question.
TAL: Okay, are you stretching again, or do you have another question to ask?
Baron von Blackberry: Little of column A, little of column Blackberry.
He considers it, and then raises his hand again.
Baron von Blackberry: Ah, yes. What’s up with that Ria Nightshade, uh… mutual acquaintance that definitely might stab someone for real one day?
TAL: She’s my opponent at Great American Nightmare.
Baron von Blackberry: Yes, of course. The Great American Nightmare. Indeed. Pray that you may one day never experience the Great Fruitsylvanian Nightmare, the counter-programming
that shall air on another, more fruity network! Probably TruTV, if we’re honest. They’ll take anything. ENOUGH! Are you truly sure that this is the opponent you wish? She is very stabby. Also, I think she hates you and thinks your hair is stupid. Probably not her words. Definitely not mine. I’m blaming Sid. He’s definitely said that about your hair.
TAL: Well, she should hate me, we’re wrestling in a deathmatch and…
The old luchador looks backstage at his brother, who shrugs and mouths “go with it!”
TAL: …and we’re going to tear the house down, because uh, you know what? I hate me too right now. If I’m being honest? I hate me with every fiber of my own being. And that’s why I’m going to go out there at Great American Nightmare, bare my chest, and take whatever aggressions she has directed at me as punishment. But you know what? I came up through this crap, and I have survived years, DECADES of putting my ass through the goddamn ringer. Whatever her puerile ass thinks she can dish out to me? I WILL DISH IT BACK OUT DOUBLE.
He throws off his suit jacket, rips off his vest, popping the buttons all across the Studio Ballroom, and starts undoing his tie.
TAL: Because when I start to feel intense self-loathing, watch out. That’s when I lash out at everyone, at you pointing at Baron and you two pointing at the B-Team and even you pointing at the seal. That’s right, don’t play coy with me you seal bastard. I KNOW YOU’VE BEEN STEALING FISH WHILE YOUR TRAINER ISN’T LOOKING.
He rips off his tie and throws it unintentionally right into the waiting hands of Miss Maverick, the Phantom Republican’s chief of staff, who places it neatly into her clutch. He then lets out an uncharacteristic “WOO!” and drops an elbow on his suit jacket before rising, dusting himself off, and getting back to his increasingly deranged rant.
TAL: You [SEVEN SECOND DELAY]ers want to see violence? I will show you why they called me the Blade of the Eastern Shores in Japan. I will show ALL OF YOU how [SEVEN SECOND DELAY]ED UP I CAN BE IN THAT RING. DAMMIT.
The Anglo Luchador, fired up and removing his shirt while storming past his brother, leaves the Studio Ballroom. Mikey heads to the podium.
Mikey: Uh, hey, uh, thanks for attending this jawn, uh, I’mma talk to Melvin and see if he can’t get you comped to the buffet for havin’ to watch that ish.
The room’s mood lightens up as the promise of food is introduced as the camera kicks it back up to the broadcast desk for the next match.
ANNA DANIELS vs. REZIN
Nick Stuart: Well, after that debacle of a stump speech from The Anglo Luchador, I believe we are ready for our next match.
Richard Parker: You know, I almost feel sorry for him.
Nick Stuart: I don’t buy it for one second.
The opening licks of “Apocalyptic Havoc” by Goatwhore speed out of the arena speakers as the chaotic footage of society gone anarchic starts playing on the PRIMEview. Rezin charges out from the Argyle position, snorting out of his nose like a bull that has just seen a red cape.
Nick Stuart: The Escape Artist is looking primed and focused this week ahead of this HUGE challenge before his Five-Star Championship match at Great American Nightmare.
Richard Parker: Well, all I can say is it’s about time. This Anna Daniels gives me the creeps with all this talk about time shifting. But with all the recreational lubricants Rezin does, maybe he’s best equipped to handle her?
The Goat Bastard stalks to the ring, his reactions with the fans at the barrier more intense and a little meaner than before. Rezin pops into the ring and hangs like St. Peter, arms entangled in the ropes, before leaping down and yelling something that vaguely sounds like profanity to the crowd at large.
The hard-charging thrash metal of Goatwhore dies down, and the lights go down. The spacey acoustic noodles of “A Darkness in My Soul” by Solid Space start to fill the arena. A spotlight appears at the top of the ramp, and Anna Daniels emerges from the entryway, holding a rolled up black t-shirt. She surveys the Grand Garden Arena before walking down with singular focus towards the ring.
Nick Stuart: Anna Daniels seems focused on Rezin this week, but how much of her mind is elsewhere?
Richard Parker: Do you mean figuratively, or is this another Time Lord reference?
Nick Stuart: No, I meant is Mortimer Kej, Kedejil, uh…
Richard Parker: Smith. Mortimer Smith. That’s how he pronounces it. Weren’t you paying attention during ReVival 6?
Nick Stuart: Touché.
The Muse slips into the ring and finds her corner to pose before her music dies down and the house lights come up. Vince Howard is in the middle of the ring ready to introduce both competitors.
Vince Howard: Introducing first, weighing in at 205 pounds and hailing from Indianapolis, Indiana, he is the Escape Artist, the Goat Bastard, and the number one contender to the Five Star Championship… REZINNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!
Rezin moves to the middle of the ring, arms raised under a hail of boos as he continues to provoke the crowd.
Vince Howard: And now, weighing in at 135 pounds from Mount Perdition on the far-off planet of Gallifrey, she is the Muse, the Time Lord, Anna DAAAAAAAAAANIEEEEELLLLLLLLLLSSSS!
Daniels hops quickly off the ropes and pegs Rezin in the back of the head with the rolled up black t-shirt. While the Goat Bastard is disoriented, Daniels swoops in and picks up the shirt, which she unfurls to reveal as one of the new Rezin “TOO PUNK ROCK FOR PRO WRESTLING” shirt available at the merch stand and on Big Cartel, but NOT on the PRIME website.
Nick Stuart: Anna Daniels playing some mind games early on here.
Richard Parker: Yeah, but on the other hand, she actually put money in Rezin’s pocket to do it. I just don’t understand what goes on in her head sometimes.
The Goat Bastard is PISSED OFF at this turn and charges at Daniels, who deftly sidesteps, pulling a white shirt out of the back of her gear and forcibly putting it on Rezin. He stands up straight to find that he has been against his will dressed in an Anna Daniels New Era shirt.
Richard Parker: Wow, you can’t buy advertising as good as that!
Rezin rips off the shirt while the Muse points and laughs like she was a grown-up, feminine-formed version of Nelson Muntz. Having had enough, the Goat Bastard charges in with a lariat, nearly taking Daniels’ head off.
Nick Stuart: It’s not often Rezin has such a weight advantage in a match. That clothesline looked DEADLY!
Richard Parker: I don’t know if I’m using this terminology correctly, but I think Anna Daniels has to regenerate after that one.
Rezin goes right to the canvas and starts gouging Daniels’ eyes. Barlow quickly starts her five count, and the Goat Bastard breaks the illegal maneuver right at five. As the junior referee admonishes him, he sticks his tongue out at her.
Nick Stuart: Disqualification or not, I’m not sure a loss heading into Great American Nightmare would be wise to court for the Escape Artist here.
Richard Parker: I think Hoyt might have a point about the refs here being incompetent to be honest. Daniels is a literal Time Lord! Rezin should be allowed to attack their eyes and ears and possibly bite them if he wants.
Rezin starts putting the boots to Daniels before grabbing to bring her to her feet. He attempts a one-handed bulldog, but the Muse shoves him before he can bring her head to the canvas. Rezin lands square on his coccyx, upon which he howls like a wolf at the moon while bringing his hands to his rear to hold it.
The Time Lord wastes no time moving in, hitting Rezin with a sliding forearm to the back of his neck. While he’s still disoriented, she grabs him in a roll-up pin but does not follow through. Instead, she tumbles him around the canvas, a move she picked up in another universe from a strange deity known only as “Manami Toyota.” The tumble ends with the first near-fall of the match.
But the Escape Artist, well, escapes.
Daniels keeps him on the canvas with a PK kick to the face before climbing the corner turnbuckle. She leaps in a gorgeous corkscrew backflip with a million flashbulbs going off to catch them in her graceful leap…
Nick Stuart: Cake or Death?
…but at the last second, the Escape Artist escapes again, leaving the Muse to jam her pointed elbow into nothing but canvas.
Richard Parker: I think that was Death, mainly her own.
A dazed Anna Daniels staggers to her feet, only to be met with a charging Rezin, nailing her with a flipping neckbreaker. After taunting the crowd, the Goat Bastard drags the Muse to their feet and whips her off the ropes. On the rebound, Rezin hits a flawless-looking Blue Thunder Bomb, segueing into his first pin attempt of the match.
But the Time Lord kicks out.
Rezin scampers over to the corner and climbs to the top, waiting for a staggered Time Lord to get to her feet. He leaps and hits a picture-perfect missile dropkick, then times her getting to her feet again for a Cloven Hoof Kick.
Nick Stuart: Rezin is firing it up here!
Richard Parker: You have to specify literal or figurative with him. I would not be surprised if he sparked up a spliff mid-match the way things go around here.
Nick Stuart: You know, Teddy Palmer got suspended for using drugs.
Richard Parker: Yeah, but pot is legal in Nevada now. Get with the times, you goody two-shoes!
Rezin feels the match in his grasp as he bounces off the ropes to attempt his Into the Void finisher. However, as he’s at the peak of rotation around Daniels’ head, the Time Lord violently uses his own momentum against him and throws him to the canvas.
Nick Stuart: There’s still fight left in the Time Lord!
Richard Parker: She must have regenerated, like I said she should! Always listen to me, the smartest man in PRIME.
Rezin staggers to his feet, only to be greeted with a charging Time Lord coming from the ropes, grabbing his head with her legs, and revolving at least five times before ending this round of Anna to the Infinite Power with a pristine hurricanrana takeover. Disoriented, the Goat Bastard rises again, only to walk right into a spike hurricanrana from the Time Lord. She grabs his legs after the initial impact and hold in place for a pinning attempt…
But the Escape Artist, again, escapes.
Nick Stuart: Anna Daniels is feeling it now! Can she pull off the upset victory?
Daniels waits for her prey to get to his feet before grabbing him, sending him off the ropes, and hitting him with her own picture-perfect Blue Thunder Bomb and pin combination…
Rezin again kicks out at the last minute.
Nick Stuart: I’m struck with a bit of déjà vu here with that.
Richard Parker: That’s what happens when two people claim the same move. They gotta hash it out in the ring and see whose is better, but I can’t tell at this point.
Nick Stuart: Calling it as he sees it. Richard Parker IS capable of growth!
Richard Parker: Hey, I’m a man who can admit when his mind is changed. Just don’t go trying to convert me from Hoytism.
Nick Stuart: I would never mess with a man’s religion, even if it is… dubious.
Before Rezin can get up, Daniels drops to the mat, tucks his right arm under their legs, and grabs his left hand at the wrist.
Nick Stuart: Daniels has wrist control, Rich.
Richard Parker: That can only mean one thing… it’s tribute time.
The Muse grabs the Goat Bastard’s middle finger and snaps it back, garnering some admonishment from Barlow for the digital manipulation. Rezin hops to his feet, holds his left hand, and runs in circles in the ring until Daniels catches him with a boot to the midsection. She underhooks both of Rezin’s arms.
Nick Stuart: I think it’s time for an Oncoming Storm…
However, Rezin blocks the attempt, barely budging from his doubled-over position. Daniels tries to lift him again, but again, he stays steadfast. Third attempt at the move, and the Escape Artist escapes with a back body drop.
Nick Stuart: Rezin continuing to find a way to stay alive!
Richard Parker: That’s what he does, much to the chagrin of the management here at the MGM Grand.
Daniels rises to her feet, but they’re met immediately with a Rezinsault that takes her back down to the canvas. He gets to his feet and makes the “touch ‘em all” sign with his hand over his head before climbing to the ropes.
Daniels rises to her feet but hits the deck IMMEDIATELY upon seeing Rezin doing a somersault flip in the air.
Nick Stuart: The Rezinrana misses its mark!
Richard Parker: I think he’s going to self-medicate a little more tonight after that one. Yeesh.
Daniels rises to her feet one more time, swiftly wrangles the Goat Bastard in a double underhook, and then…
Nick Stuart: ONCOMING STORM!
Richard Parker: Goodnight, nurse!
She covers, shooting the half and hooking the leg…
Vince Howard: Here is your winner by pinfall, Anna DANIELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLSSSSS!
Barlow raises the Time Lord’s hand in victory as the Escape Artist holds his head in the background, having used up all his escapes before the end of the match.
Nick Stuart: Tough break for Rezin here. What does this mean for his momentum going into Great American Nightmare?
Richard Parker: I don’t know, but I still think he can claim disability here. There’s no way wrestling a Time Lord should be considered a fair fight.
Nick Stuart: Well, that’s debatable, but what’s not up for question is paying the bills. We’ll be back after this commercial break!
IT’S THE ‘STACHE, ISN’T IT?
Fading back in from commercial, we’re greeted with the innocent, bespectacled face of Simon Tillier. At this point in PRIME’s ReVival, we might expect to see Simon a little on edge, including tonight after already receiving his bi-weekly dose of Rezin. However, as we approach the conclusion of tonight’s show, that is not the case. Simon is all smiles, because right now he’s getting his big break.
Simon Tillier: Welcome back to ReVival 9, here on the ACE Network! Tonight’s main event, a Triple Threat for the Five Star Championship, is just around the corner! And standing with me is reigning champ, “Event Horizon” Hayes Hanlon!
Panning out reveals the champ, clad in his ring gear with the belt over his right shoulder. Simon retrieves a handkerchief from his jacket pocket, dabbing his forehead, at which Hayes laughs.
Hayes Hanlon: (giving Simon a hearty slap on the back) Take a breather, Simon! Don’t get all bent out of shape for lil’ ol’ me!
Simon laughs sheepishly while Hayes flashes a bright smile.
Simon Tillier: Thank you Hayes, it’s just…(looking over his shoulder)…most of my interviews have been a little…stressful. Anyway! Hayes, you are not only the first Five Star Champion of the ReVival era, but notably the first crowned champion of the ReVival era period! How’s it been holding the strap?
Hayes Hanlon: You know the story, Simon! It’s the dream come true! The Invitational didn’t work out for me, but earning the shot at this baby (patting his belt) got me all fired up! And winning it at Culture Shock was the cherry on top of the sundae!
Simon Tillier: ReVival 7 saw your first title defense against Alexander Redding, resulting in a double disqualification after some messy interference, and further pushing Redding into tonight’s Five Star Triple Threat. Any words for Red?
Hayes Hanlon: Nothing he hasn’t heard from the horse’s mouth already, but I hope he’s got a fresh game plan now that his buddy Ted got the boot. If he’s trying to make things muddy again, it’ll take a lot more than Grady Patrick in his corner.
Simon Tillier: The fun doesn’t stop at Redding! Cecilia Ryan, your first opponent in PRIME during the Almasy Invitational’s first round, will join in tonight’s main event. Any thoughts on the Murder Daughter?
Hayes Hanlon: Ah, yes. My girl Cecilia. Listen Simon, you can’t sleep on that one, but this will be, what, our third time in the ring together? Maybe third time’s the charm, but I doubt i…
His voice trails off slightly as Cecilia Ryan steps into frame, right on queue.
Simon Tillier: Ah! Cecilia! What timing!
Cecilia keeps her eyes on Hayes, a slightly unsettling smile on her face. Hayes starts to speak, but is cut off.
Cecilia Ryan: I don’t mean to interrupt, but I was walking in this direction on total accident and I saw you both here doing this interview and… okay well, I thought I’d come over and interrupt.
Hanlon snorts, shaking his head.
Simon Tillier: Well, it’s a…pleasure to have you here! Since you are here, mind telling us a little more about how your training’s been going? What you’ve learned since debuting here in PRIME? And maybe…
She holds up a hand and stares directly at Simon.
Cecilia Ryan: Stop talking.
Simon Tillier: Yes okay I will do that.
She continues to stare at him, and finally makes a head movement to suggest he leave. More like demand he leave, actually. Simon Tillier is no dummy, so he takes his cue and walks away. Hayes adjusts the belt over his shoulder and watches as Cecilia turns her attention back to him. Then, surprisingly, she sticks her hand out for a handshake. He considers it warily, and noticing his hesitation, Cecilia smiles her best sincere smile.
Cecilia Ryan: I came on a little strong before. I think we got off on the wrong foot. Nature of the business, you know? Trying to make an impression, that sort of thing.
At this, Hayes softens slightly, and finally reaches out to shake her hand. She doesn’t hold it longer than necessary, no squeezing or attempts to break his wrist, but a good hearty handshake.
Cecilia Ryan: Still…
She releases his hand.
Cecilia Ryan: …taking another look at you up close, I have to say, not really all that impressed.
Hayes Hanlon: It’s the ‘stache, isn’t it? Man, Redding didn’t like it at the last show either!
The Event Horizon adjusts his belt again, shifting to square up with The Murder Daughter.
Hayes Hanlon: But here’s a plot twist; because I am impressed by you.
Cecilia raises an indignant eyebrow.
Hayes Hanlon: You’re an animal in the ring, and I haven’t forgotten that armbar from ReVival 1. You’re going to terrorize people in this place for a long time. But here’s a question for ya…
Ryan’s second eyebrow perks up to match the first, amused.
Hayes Hanlon: You’ve had two chances so far to be unimpressed by me. What’s going to make the third any different?
Cecilia Ryan: Well I’ll tell you. See, in my family we place a lot of emphasis on learning from your mistakes and adapting. We fight, and if we lose, we go back to the drawing board, and sometimes it takes a few tries, but eventually we win. I’m relentless, Hayes. If it takes me ten times, I’ll come at you ten times. You’ll be seeing me in your sleep, in every mirror, in the eyes of everyone you pass on the street, and I’ll haunt you until I figure this out. I’m a kid. I know who and what I am. But I’ll learn. Believe me, I’ll learn. No better time like the present.
She taps on the belt, then turns to walk away, but then pauses.
Cecilia Ryan: Oh and um…yes. It’s the mustache. It looks like you’ve got a ferret resting on your lip.
Hayes grins, drawing his thumb and fore-finger across his dark facial fur while flashing a wink.
Hayes Hanlon: It’ll grow on you.
The Murder Daughter rolls her eyes and continues on, leaving the Five Star Champ to watch her leave, grinning behind the ferret on his lip before we break for commercial.
FIVE STAR TITLE: HAYES HANLON(c) vs. ALEXANDER REDDING vs. CECILIA RYAN
We cut to Nick Stuart and Richard Parker at the announce desk.
Nick Stuart: And we have come to our main event of the evening.
Richard Parker: Buckle up everyone, because this one is going to be a doozy. Three stars, all born in different decades, looking to make their mark on PRIME.
Nick Stuart: Cecilia Ryan earned this match after defeating Anna Daniels at ReVival 7, which also saw Redding and Hanlon battle to a double count out.
Richard Parker: This will be the second time that Hanlon and Ryan are in the ring, going back to Colossus in March with Hanlon winning the 5-Star Championship at that time. Ryan and Redding have also been in the ring together, back at ReVival 4, and obviously Redding and Hanlon faced off recently.
Nick Stuart: Needless to say, these three have some history with one another and they’ll be itching to get their hands on one another once again tonight. Let’s head to Vince Howard for the wrestler introductions.
We then switch to Vince Howard, who is in the center of the ring.
Vince Howard: The following match is our main event! It is a triple-threat match and is for the 5-Star Championship!
Nick Stuart: And our fans here in the MGM Grand Garden Arena are ready for this match.
Vince Howard: Introducing first, hailing from Tampa, Florida… she is CECILIA! RYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!
“Legacy” by Daphne Willis plays over the speakers, and Cecilia Ryan steps out onto the stage, her eyes fixed on the ring. She doesn’t pay any attention to the fans as she walks down the ramp to ringside. She rolls into the ring under the bottom rope, then climbs a turnbuckle and looks out into the crowd, arms down and a slight smirk on her face.
Richard Parker: You have to be impressed by Ryan’s run thus far in PRIME, at the age of nineteen years old.
Nick Stuart: She will actually be celebrating her twentieth birthday next Friday.
Richard Parker: That feels… surreal. I also feel infinitely old now.
Nick Stuart: That’s good, because you are infinitely old.
Vince Howard: Introducing next, hailing from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada… he is ALEXANDER! REEEEEEEEEEDIIIIIIIIING!
“Love Spreads” by The Stone Roses erupts in the MGM-Grand Arena and from the back emerges Redding, who makes a beeline for the ring and enters, his eyes firmly focused upon Ryan.
Nick Stuart: The last time these two were in the ring, it was to determine who would be in the 5-Star Championship match at Culture Shock. Ryan picked up the victory over Ria Nightshade while Redding and Solomon Richards were battling outside.
Richard Parker: Redding is going to need to wipe that memory out of his mind along with his previous match against Hanlon. He needs a fresh memory in order to come out with the win tonight. If he dwells too much on the past, it could be his downfall.
We Came as Romans.
White flashbulbs flicker along with the music’s growing beat. The PRIME*View soars into the cosmos, passing planets and nebulas, picking up speed and shaking as it approaches a massive black hole. A wall of white bulbs ignite in the entryway as the song’s intro crescendos, the silhouette of Hayes Hanlon lifts one arm to the ceiling, the 5-Star Title held high in his grasp. The lights dim as the music quiets, and Hayes walks out to the edge of the ramp, soaking in the spectacle and cheers of the crowd. The music builds again, and Hayes thrusts the belt into the air once more with the chorus.
“I FALL INTO A BLACK HOLE IN MY HEAD!”
Vince Howard: From West Linn, Oregon, standing six feet, three inches tall and weighing in at 261 pounds…your 5. STAR. CHAMPION…the Event Horizon…HAYES! HANLOONNNN!!
He immediately starts a quick and steady march down the ramp, another bright flash of white filling the arena. The Event Horizon slides into the ring and moves toward the far turnbuckle, stepping onto the first ropes and turning to face the center of the ring.
“I’M FIGHTING THE GRAAVITY, IT’S PULLING THE WORST PART OUT OF ME!
He leans back over the post, draping the 5 Star belt across his chest before extending his arms outward, eyes closed with his torso aimed at the ceiling. The crescendo following the chorus blasts out through the arena among the flashbulbs.
Nick Stuart: Hanlon will be looking to pull out this tough victory tonight and successfully defend his title.
Richard Parker: You’ve got to think he wants the clean victory tonight after the double countout in his first defense. Nothing will settle a champion more than when they get that first defense successfully under their belt.
Nick Stuart: Hanlon will have his work cut out for him though.
Richard Parker: He will, but Hanlon has shown in the past that he’s cut pretty tough.
Timo Bolamba moves towards Hanlon, taking the 5-Star Championship from him, and holds it up high for all to see. He then walks over and hands it to the timekeeper before issuing his final instructions to all three competitors. He then waits for acknowledgement from all three wrestlers, who subtly nod their heads, and then he signals for the start of the match.
The three competitors exit their respective corners and glare at one another. Ryan and Redding look at one another while Hanlon motions for both of them to come after him. They happily oblige, though together, and begin wailing away at him with fist after fist. They back him into the corner as Hanlon does everything in his power simply to cover up, but is unable to do so. Redding drags Hanlon away from the ropes, slams his boot into his cover, and Ryan and Redding put him into a front facelock before hoisting him into the air and connecting with a snap suplex.
Hanlon sits up from the pain in his lower back, which gives Redding the opening he needs and slams the toe of his right boot into the small of Hanlon’s back. Hayes grimaces in pain as Ryan then bounces off the ropes and connects with a stiff knee to his back. Hanlon rolls over in pain, but Cecilia yanks him up to his feet and connects with a knife-edge chop across his chest. Redding grabs Hanlon, whips him into the ropes, and as he does so Ryan bounces off the ropes and connects with a flying roundhouse kick across the jaw of Hanlon. Hayes then rolls under the bottom rope, needing space from his two opponents.
Nick Stuart: And NOT the start that Hayes Hanlon was looking for there.
Richard Parker: Not in the least bit as Ryan and Redding have seemingly joined forces here in the opening stages of the match.
Nick Stuart: How long do you think that’s going to last?
Richard Parker: Like… three more seconds?
Ryan motions for Redding to go get Hanlon and Alexander begins to do so only for Ryan to slam her forearm in between his shoulder blades. With Alexander stunned, Cecilia bounces off the ropes and connects with a dropkick to his left knee. Redding crumples to the mat and Ryan wastes no time as she steps through the ropes and sees Hanlon rising to his feet. As Hanlon turns towards Cecilia, the youngster leaps off the ring apron and connects with a flying clothesline that sends both competitors crashing to the mat, Hanlon’s back colliding with the ringside barrier in the process.
Ryan makes her way back up to her feet and onto the ring apron as Redding pulls himself back up to his feet. As he turns towards Ryan, she connects a fist to the jaw and follows that up with a high kick to the jaw. Alexander collapses to the mat as Ryan then slingshots herself over the top rope and connects with a splash into a pinfall, as Timo slides into position to begin his count.
Richard Parker: Impressive showing from Ryan, keeping Redding and Hanlon on the defensive there.
Nick Stuart: Almost got the pinfall on Redding to boot. This is extremely dangerous for Hanlon because he does not need to be pinned to lose.
Richard Parker: Not at all and that would be a disappointing way to lose tonight.
Nick Stuart: No kidding.
Ryan sits up and shakes her head in the process before she begins to pull herself back up to her feet, but is quickly tripped by Hanlon on the outside. Cecilia collides hard with the mat and then Hayes yanks her out of the ring before whipping her into the ringside barrier. Ryan collides hard with the barrier and Hanlon, grabbing at his back in the process, runs at Ryan and connects with a knee to her midsection. Hanlon goes to whip Cecilia into the ring apron, but Ryan reverses it and Hanlon counters by using the momentum to slide into the ring under the bottom rope. He then hops back up to his feet and catches a rising Redding with a slingblade that sends him crashing to the mat.
Hanlon fights back to his feet and catches Ryan on the ring apron with a stiff jab to the jaw before putting her into a front facelock and suplexes her into the ring. Hanlon grabs the ropes and pulls himself back up to his feet, catches a rising Ryan with a forearm across the face, spins her around, and connects with a German suplex that folds the rising star like an accordion. Hanlon gets back up to his feet and narrowly ducks under a clothesline from Redding before spinning around and lifting a rebounding Redding into a spinebuster in the center of the ring. Hanlon then goes for a cover of his own.
Nick Stuart: And Redding has nearly been pinned twice in this match thus far. Not the start he wanted!
Richard Parker: I would say not as Hanlon finally got his offense going there. The explosive 5-Star Champion showing right then and there why he is a force to be reckoned with in PRIME.
Nick Stuart: He needs to keep the offense flowing and his head on a swivel because it could be knocked off in a hurry.
Richard Parker: Exactly and if Hanlon is out of this match, he can kiss his championship goodbye, baby.
Hanlon makes his way back up to his feet and drags Redding up to his feet only for Alexander to connect with a fist to the midsection of Hanlon and follows that up with a gutwrench slam in the center of the ring. He then walks over to a rising Ryan and slams his knee into her face. She stumbles into the nearby corner and Redding connects with a series of jabs to the jaw before yanking her out of the corner and nails her with a beautiful butterfly suplex. He rolls back onto his knees and explodes to his feet as he rushes at a standing but dazed Hanlon and clothesline him over the top rope, Redding going along with him and crashing to the floor with Hanlon.
Redding is back to his feet first, grabs the ring apron and begins stomping away at Hanlon in the process. Alexander then yanks Hanlon off the mat and whips him into the ring post. Hanlon collides hard with the ring post and stumbles backwards, grabbing at his head before Redding connects with a Saito suplex. Redding then hops onto the ring apron and springboards off the top rope before connecting with a flying elbow to Ryan, sending both to the mat. Redding bounces back up to his feet, bounces off the ropes, and catches a rising Hanlon with a Tope Suicida that sends Hanlon careening into the ringside barrier. Redding rushes back into the ring and catches a rising Ryan with a swift kick to the midsection, puts her into a front facelock, hoists her into the air, and connects with a brainbuster before going for the cover as Bolamba slides into position.
Nick Stuart: And Redding almost getting the pinfall there on Cecilia Ryan!
Richard Parker: The action has been furious since the opening moments of this match and while Redding is in the driver seat for now, there’s no guarantee it’ll stay that way.
Nick Stuart: Tonight is not about showmanship, but merely surviving and finding the right opportunity to make your mark and exit here tonight with the 5-Star Championship.
Richard Parker: You have to imagine Lindsay Troy is in the back, watching her niece intently tonight and wondering if tonight will be her night.
Redding sits up, shaking his head, and yells at Bolamba. Bolamba reiterates it was only a two count and Redding begins to make his way back up to his feet, telling Bolamba it was a three count. Bolamba confirms it was a two count and Redding turns away from him right into a spear from Hanlon who follows through and mounts Redding before planting fist after fist in his face. Hanlon bounces back up to his feet and drags Redding with him, whipping into the corner, but Redding connects with an elbow to the jaw as Hanlon rushes towards him. Hanlon stumbles backwards into a clubbing forearm from Ryan. Redding rushes at Hanlon only for Hanlon to duck and Redding runs full speed into a knee to the face from Ryan. Redding stumbles backwards into a German suplex from Hanlon. Hanlon makes his way up to his feet and catches a running Cecilia Ryan at the last second, hoisting her into the air and slamming her onto the prone body of Redding.
Hanlon then bounces off the ropes and connects with an elbow to the sternum of Redding as Ryan rolls out of the way at the last possible second. Ryan grabs Hanlon by the back of the skull and rushes him into the nearby corner where she slams his face into it. She then spins Hanlon around and knees him in the midsection. Ryan whips Hanlon to the opposite corner only for Hanlon to be met with a hotshot from Redding onto the top turnbuckle. Hanlon stumbles around as Ryan rushes at him and he catches her before hoisting him onto his shoulders, spins her around so her feet catch the face of Redding, and slams her to the mat with a Death Valley Driver.
Richard Parker: It’s getting difficult to just keep up with all the back-and-forth action, the counters, the near-misses. These three are laying it all out on the line here tonight.
Nick Stuart: Hanlon doing everything he can to dish out his explosive offense on both Ryan and Redding here, in hopes of retaining his title.
Richard Parker: He certainly has his work cut out for him and he’ll need to continue this pace.
Nick Stuart: That might be easier said than done.
Hanlon makes his way to his feet, turns towards Redding, and is met with a Rolling Heel Kick. Hanlon stumbles into the ropes from the shot as Redding connects with a knife-edge chop on Hayes. Hanlon fires back with a jab to the jaw and Redding follows that up with a knee to the midsection. Alexander goes for a suplex, but Hanlon manages to block it and instead reverses it before crotching Redding on the top rope.
Hanlon turns around and is met with the sight of Ryan running at him, full speed. He takes her momentum and launches her into the air, over his head, and Ryan flies towards Redding, wrapping her legs around him and connecting with a hurricanrana off the top rope! Hanlon then yanks Ryan to her feet, whips her into the ropes, and connects with a staggering powerslam in the center of the ring. He then goes for the cover on Ryan.
Nick Stuart: And another near fall there for Hanlon, who can feel the victory in the grasp of his fingers, but it keeps slipping out before he has a chance to seize it.
Richard Parker: And Cecilia Ryan has received the brunt of the punishment here tonight from Hanlon, and she is looking rough right now.
Nick Stuart: The smallest competitor in the ring, but she doesn’t know the meaning of quitting.
Richard Parker: Well, with her family lineage, can’t say that I’m all that surprised.
Hanlon sits up and shakes his head as he makes his way up to his feet and is met with a flying wheel kick from Redding. Hanlon rolls out of the ring, grabbing his jaw, while Redding sizes up Ryan and begins stomping away at her before yanking her off the mat, hoisting her up onto his shoulders in a fireman’s carry, and connects with a neckbreaker on her as she rolls out of the ring as well, grabbing at her neck. Redding bounces off the ropes and flys through the middle rope, connecting with a Tope Suicida on Hanlon only for Hayes to grab him, hoist him onto his shoulders, and spins him into the nearby ring post headfirst! As Redding falls off his shoulders and onto the mat, Hanlon slides into the ring, bounces off the ropes, and connects with a Tope Suicida of his own onto Ryan who is launched halfway up the ramp as a result.
Hanlon slowly makes his way to his feet, walks back over to Redding, and rolls him into the ring. Hayes takes a moment to gather himself before climbing up the turnbuckle and waits as he sees Redding climbing to his feet. As Redding turns towards him, Hanlon flies off the top rope and goes for a flying cross body only for Redding to duck underneath it. Redding bounces off the ropes and connects with a leg drop across the throat of the 5-Star Champion. Redding fights his way back up to his feet, stumbling in the process, and looks at Ryan before springboarding off the top rope and connects with a diving thigh punch to the challenger.
Richard Parker: And Alexander Redding not wanting to be left out of the festivities here, clearly.
Nick Stuart: Not at all, as you have to worry about the beating that Ryan has been taking here in the last few moments.
Richard Parker: If she wants to win tonight, she is going to have to dig down deep and find some extra strength to pull this victory off.
Nick Stuart: This match is still anyone’s game and with the back and forth we’ve seen thus far, it’s going to be a fight to the end.
Redding grabs Ryan off the steel ramp, drags her down to the ring, and then as he goes to roll her back into the ring, Ryan connects with a stiff elbow to the midsection and then hoists Redding up and drops him chin first across the ring apron. Cecilia hops onto the ring apron and watches as Redding turns towards her and connects with a Meteora onto an unsuspecting Redding. With her on top of him, she begins pelting away at him with angry fists to the face until he pushes her off of him. She gets back to her feet and turns, ducking under a punch from Redding and spinning around with a discus forearm to his face. Ryan turns towards the ring just as Hanlon leaps off the top rope and connects with a flying crossbody on Redding and Ryan.
Hanlon makes his way up to his feet and drags Ryan up with him, sliding her into the ring. He follows after her, whips her into the ropes, and connects with a shattering spinebuster in the middle of the ring. Cecilia rolls over onto her knees, coughing as her body feels like death. Hayes jumps back up to his feet, throwing both arms out to the side, and slowly reaches them towards the ceiling, hands and forearms shaking, absorbing the energy from the arena. Ryan starts to pull herself up to her feet, her body spent, as Hayes pushes her into the ropes and she rebounds back at him into the Pop-up 180 sit-out choke-bomb.
Hayes then goes for the cover and is eager to retain his title. As Timo slides into position.
Nick Stuart: NO WAY!
Richard Parker: ARE WE SURE THAT WASN’T A THREE COUNT?!
Cecilia rips her shoulder off the mat at the last possible second to the dismay of Hanlon and the shock of every fan in the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Timo confirms with Hayes that it was only a two count as Hanlon moves to his knees in pure shock as Ryan lies there on the mat, chest barely moving, but moving just enough to confirm she is not dead. Hanlon makes his way up to his feet, shaking his head, and turns only to be met with a Hammerlock Discus Lariat from Alexander Redding that sends both competitors careening to the outside once again.
Richard Parker: Hanlon in COMPLETE shock after Ryan kicks out of the Epoch!
Nick Stuart: And Alexander Redding took COMPLETE advantage of it there.
Richard Parker: Timo is checking on Ryan in the ring because she does not look good in the least bit right now.
Nick Stuart: I would say not, but Hanlon might be in trouble on the outside of the ring.
Redding makes his way back up to his feet first and drags Hanlon up with him. Hayes manages to shake the cobwebs out though and quickly gets Redding in his grasp. Hanlon locks his hands behind the Willing Villain’s head, bringing Redding’s arms up with him, and falls backwards with a snap dragon suplex!
Right into the ring steps!
Nick Stuart: Redding hit hard there, he might be out!
Richard Parker: I would say that is a fair assessment.
The 5 Star Champ then slides back into the ring and watches as Ryan slowly makes her way to her feet, clearly dazed and out of it. As Cecilia turns towards Hayes, he leaps toward her, twists mid-air, then grabs her around the head and allows gravity to bring the two of them down to the mat.
Nick Stuart: FLASH POINT! Outta nowhere! Hayes covers!
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: Your winner… and STILL 5-STAR CHAMPION… HAYES HANLON!
Nick Stuart: HAYES HANLON HAS PULLED IT OFF!
Richard Parker: I… can’t… even…
Nick Stuart: Somehow, someway, the Event Horizon reached down deep and managed to pull it out when it mattered the most.
Hayes somehow makes it to his feet, looking dizzy and woozy all at the same time, as the timekeeper hands Timo Bolamba the 5-Star Championship. He walks over to Hayes, hands it to him, then raises his hand in victory.
Nick Stuart: And the fans here at the MGM Grand couldn’t be happier.
Richard Parker: Well, isn’t that special.
Hayes holds the title high above his head and yells out in victory.
BESEECH THE QUEEN
There’s reason for King Blueberry to be cautious. The last time he stood outside this door – the one that separates the office of Lindsay Troy from the outside world – he was joined by eleven other men (and one mannequin), none of whom wanted to be the first to cross the threshold. And when Blueberry did step inside the office, he was summarily trampled by those same eleven men. Twice, in fact.
Now, with the cameras off and the night’s Survivor challenge a memory, there is no need for costumes, or pageantry. It’s for those reasons and those reasons alone that he’s here without the mask. Besides, there’s no need to subject his boss to the horrors of his David Bowie tight pants.
Much as it was two weeks ago, the door is open, though only slightly ajar. With a slow, steadying breath he knocks lightly against the door.
King Blueberry: Hey, it’s just me, the village idiot. I promise this isn’t some dumbshit stunt.
He pokes his head inside.
King Blueberry: Don’t mean to be a pain in the ass, but I was wondering if you’ve got a minute.
“The Boss” appears to be preoccupied with typing on her phone when King Blueberry sticks his head across the threshold, because she doesn’t say anything for a beat or two. It’s a long enough pause for him to consider saying something else, or coughing to get her attention, but just when he’s about to open his mouth, Lindsay Troy speaks.
Lindsay Troy: But there are so many village idiots and pains in the asses here.
Her fingers finally stop flying over her phone screen and as she places the device on her desk, she looks up at Jared with a smirk.
Lindsay Troy: Did you bring the horde with you again?
King Blueberry: The horde? Oh, uhh, no. You should talk to Melvin about that. I’m just in the circus, but he’s the one that sets up the rings.
Ah, there it is: the dawning realization that he’s said something ridiculous.
King Blueberry: Well, no, I guess the ring crew sets up the actual rings, but… Look, you get what I mean. Jesus, that analogy worked so much better in my head. I’m rambling.
He eases the door open and steps inside, making sure not to get too close. When you’ve spent as much time inciting chaos as King Blueberry, it’s best to keep a safe distance from the people in a position to see that nonsense punished.
King Blueberry: Anyway, I was wondering if I could ask a favor.
Lindsay Troy: If you’re going to ask to fight Bathory too, I’ll tell you the same thing I told Jon…
King Blueberry: Bathory? No. Nothing like that. This is about the mannequin. More specifically, about replacing it. With a human, not another mannequin.
Lindsay blinks. Then blinks again. And again, quickly.
Lindsay Troy: You mean…
A smile slides across her face.
Lindsay Troy: My long, national nightmare is about to be over?
The Blueberry’s posture relaxes, an obvious sense of relief washing over him.
King Blueberry: Short answer? Yes. Long answer? Okay, that one’s a maybe, with a high chance of yes.
He moves to the seats in front of her desk, taking one for himself and placing a messenger bag in the other.
King Blueberry: I’ve got someone in mind, but I haven’t said anything to her yet because I wanted to do this the right way and get your sign-off first. I think she’d agree, but there’s always the chance that the idea gets shot down, and then not much changes. If it makes you feel any better, I’m not thrilled about that being a possibility either.
Lindsay Troy: (deadpan) I will sign off on nearly anyone with legitimate experience to replace the mannequin, Jared.
King Blueberry: Oh, thank god.
His smile is equal parts joy and relief.
King Blueberry: Would it be cool if I brought her the paperwork? Do we trust me to not fuck that up?
Lindsay Troy: Call Killean in the morning and work it out with him. Tell him we talked already.
King Blueberry: Thank you for this. I really appreciate it. Hopefully things work out, and there’s a chance they won’t, but I think I’m ready to play the odds.
He pulls the bag off the nearby chair and reaches a hand inside. The device he removes is only a few inches long, encased in black with two prongs at one end. A few members of the roster have felt the bite of the taser dubbed “Count Shockula,” and that was before the fangs and cape were glued to it. King Blueberry – Jared – sets it down on Troy’s desk.
King Blueberry: Which means I shouldn’t need this anymore.
Lindsay picks up the taser, considering it, and then smiles. She opens up a drawer and places Count Shockula inside.
Lindsay Troy: Anything else you need?
King Blueberry: No, I won’t take up any more of your time.
He rises from his seat and moves to the door, slinging the bag over his shoulder as he walks.
King Blueberry: Again, thank you for this. I know the last few months have been a little, uhh, let’s say “iffy,” but I owe you for this.
Lindsay Troy: Mmhmm. And Jared?
He looks back at her.
Lindsay Troy: I’m hard on you because I want you to succeed. Not because I dislike you. You wouldn’t be here if that were the case.
He nods slowly, taking in and processing each word.
King Blueberry: Then I’ll try not to disappoint.
The door closes with a soft click.
FADE TO BLACK