Event Date: 09/23/2022
Event Location: Las Vegas, NV
A LAST STAND
Las Vegas has been evacuated.
The bright lights of the Strip lie dark. Roads emptied. Sin City has taken immeasurable damage.
The MGM Grand, similarly, looms dark. Ominous.
But inside, a last stand.
“You’re fighting an endless war…
Hunting a miracle…
And when you reach out for the stars…
They just cut you down…”
The camera rushes inside the building, where breaking walls and the flashing lights of fire alarms contrast to the quiet dark outside. David Fox emerges from a corner, stumbling and clutching a separated shoulder. Just as he prepares to catch his breath, the wall in front of him is leveled thanks to a raging Mushigara, his hulking frame covered in smaller, mechanical creatures with egg-shaped heads. The Soul Survivor shields his eyes with his good arm as the God Beast thrashes, reaching and crunching the egg-head of one while crushing another underfoot. Recovered, Fox flips a futuristic pistol with his working hand, assisting his partner with three immediate headshots, splattering yolk and oil against the walls.
“Looking through the glass, cannot recognize the ghost that you are seeing.”
Panning away from the hall and into a ruined cafeteria, Joe Fontaine slashes and slices his way through an onslaught of shadowy tentacles, his two katanas dancing and spraying black ooze with each arcing swing. Moving up a floor, The Bull of the North puts a pair of flaming fists to work, battering a larger shadow beast with blows to the body and its ethereal head, further burning it until it crumples and melts into the floor. Before any reprieve is offered, a black whip cracks and wraps around Buster’s neck, the cloaked form of Shawn Warstein on the other end. Warstein floats into the air, taking Gloves with him, choking and clutching at his neck.
“Every step you take, on the burning sand,
slowly sinking deeper…”
Transitioning outside, Mortimer Kjedelig looks to the sky, a swarm of egg machines buzzing on their approach to the balcony where he stands. Mortimer clears his throat, taking a long breath into his big chest, then shouts loudly, sonic waves forcing the wall of machines to explode into a wall of smoke. He catches his breath, only to see a small round object lobbed through the smoke. He catches it, an orange metal ball with the letter “G” stylized into a smiley face. Morty looks up to see the form of Gamble appearing as the smoke dissipates. Tony smiles that famous scarred smile, and the ball explodes in Mortimer’s face, sending him to the balcony floor and shredding his mask apart, the fabric torn and bloody.
“All the memories remain, all the pain from your broken home…”
A helicopter zips by overhead, Randall Schwartz in the pilot seat and weaving around the flying egg robots. From the side bay, Kenny Freeman picks them off one by one with an obnoxiously large sniper rifle straight out of Fortnite. A giant black tentacle lashes out from the building as they fly back, crashing through the tail of their helicopter, sending them into a spin and exploding against the side of the MGM.
“And the walls ‘round your heart grew so strong,
you can’t let go…”
Jonathan Rhine uses his feet to push himself against the wall in the hallway, a metallic hand clutching at a hole in his exo-suit, his stomach bleeding badly. He blasts energy pulses in one direction at an on-coming swarm of shadow beasts. Next to him, Paxton Ray puts his fists through egg machine after egg machine, yolk and oil painting his forearms and chest.
“You keep crawling on,
don’t wanna let it go…”
Rhine peers into the crowd of shadow beasts, spotting Beautiful Bobby, then his face turns to horror as Dean’s jaw unhinges, his mouth growing massive, before shoveling a few of the beasts into his waiting maw. He gnashes them to pieces before turning a hungering grin toward Rhine. Meanwhile, Paxton fails to notice Doozer materializing from thin air. The Old Bull crushes his fist against Ray’s jaw, sending teeth clattering. He goes invisible, re-appears to strike, and disappears again, over and over until Paxton collapses to his knees, his face a bloody pulp.
“So you keep holding on,
to feel whole…”
In front of Paxton, Rezin explodes through the wall, a tumbling mess of limbs careening into the opposite side of the hall. GREAT SCOTT steps through the rubble, GREAT BEAR behind him. SCOTT’s impossible strength is on display as he wraps a hand around Rezin’s neck, The Goat Bastard’s face caked in blood from a broken nose. SCOTT choke-lifts him one-handed, but tilts his head as Rezin starts to cackle through his gurgles. The Escape Artist wraps a hand around SCOTT’s wrist, and SCOTT recoils as the black void creeps down his arm, like a strange liquid spreading over the skin.
‘CAUSE YOU’RE FIGHTING AN ENDLESS WAR!”
The Time Lord pays no mind to the ceiling crumbling around her in the MGM lobby. She drifts, arms extended at her sides, wading through a swarm of egg-shaped machines. With each flick of the wrist she banishes them, one by one to the far corners of the multiverse. Anna’s spellcasting is interrupted, as a pair of chains vault from the shadows, snapping tight around her neck. Mephisto reveals himself, rolling the chains through his fists and around his elbows, wrapping them over and over, dragging her closer and closer, the chains digging into her neck deeper and deeper.
“HUNTING A MIRACLE!”
A massive monstrosity of shadow barrels its way through a backstage hallway, crumbling the walls as it drags its way forward with enormous claws. King Blueberry and Reina Raspberry backpedal, furiously typing into their wrist consoles, controlling an army of berry-shaped nano-bots in an attempt to engulf the creature. The creature does not relent, and as they near the end of the hallway, the cyborg known as Sid Phillips strides forward between them, his infrared eyeball scanning, and he does what he’s programmed to do.
“AND WHEN YOU REACH OUT FOR THE STARS!”
The giant shadow beast hurtles into the MGM garage, having been thrown through ten stories thanks to a Sid Phillips bionic powerbomb. It lands in a heap, black tongue lolling to the pavement. Within the garage, Dusk floats above the ground, striped cape waving as his red laser vision cuts a swath through support pillars. Larry Tact, with nowhere to hide, confronts the Lost Soul, blocking the beams with crossed forearms. He struggles forward, teeth bared, skin on his arms beginning to bubble.
“THEY JUST CUT YOU DOWN!”
In the MGM’s underbelly, a bloodied Hayes Hanlon inches his way in the dark, the area dimly lit with red emergency lights. He holds a cracked and blood-stained baseball bat in defense, eyes wide and darting left and right. Suddenly he walks into an object and hops back. The object steps forward to reveal itself; the wall of meat known as Ivan Stanislav. Ivan stares down at the Event Horizon, then starts to shift, growing imposing fangs, arms bursting with gnarled gray hair, transforming into a were-bear with eyes glowing red. Hayes lifts his bat in defiance, just before the monster engulfs him in his claws.
‘CAUSE YOU’RE FIGHTING AN ENDLESS WAR!”
Outside in the courtyard, The Anglo Luchadore approaches the scene of the crumbling MGM Grand. In front of the entrance, God’s Champion, Hoyt Williams looms, arms outstretched, the shadow beasts unwilling to approach. TAL takes a step forward, but stops in his tracks as a great beast leaps and lands behind him, breaking the asphalt underfoot. TAL turns to meet the fifteen foot form of Balaam, steam and smoke smoldering through his mask. The Intense Champion slowly pulls his own mask over his head, and in true super saiyan fashion, bursts into a gleaming light. He plants his feet and flies from the ground at the Mask of Malice, flying straight through his chest in a streaking beam.
“HUNTING A MIRACLE!”
Center-ring in the Garden, Ria Lockhart spins and whirls, arcing an impossible amount of knives into a rush of egg machines, clambering over each other. Despite her defiance, they gain ground, and worse, the burning effigy of FLAMBERGE approaches down the ramp, flaming sword in hand. Rainbow Rock fights defiantly as FLAMBERGE melts the ropes and floats into the ring. Her knives only melt against his burning body. As FLAMBERGE raises his sword, a figure barrels from the ceiling, slamming into the center of the ring. From Nate Colton’s superhero landing, a forcefield grows, a half-dome expanding outward and pushing FLAMBERGE and the surrounding egg-machines away.
“IS IT WORTH DYING FOR?”
On the MGM rooftop, the miniature explosions that emanate from Nova’s body have created a small mound of shadow beasts and egg machines. Pulse after pulse sends them to their doom. Across the way, Brandon Youngblood streaks from the sky, creating a small crater upon landing. His red cape is singed and ripped, his face bruised and scarred. The Risen Star turns his own weathered face to the Tower of Babel. Youngblood looks up at Nova atop his mound of carcasses, but their moment is interrupted.
“OR ARE YOU BLIND BY…”
Rising up from the ground, a gargantuan egg-shaped machine rises, forty stories tall at least. Colossal mechanical arms slam into the building, and Nova and Youngblood turn to face it. The manic face of Cancer Jiles sits behind a stretch of glass, sitting behind the machination’s control center, wildly flipping switches and pressing buttons.
“BLINDED BY IT ALL!?”
However,, rising between the gargantuan egg mech and the MGM, is a robed Julian Bathory. He pulls back his hood, and the Carpathian Devil raises his arms slowly. From the earth, a pair of building-sized black tentacles burst, flailing against the MGM Grand, threatening to topple it. Youngblood’s eyes glow white, ready to attack. Nova charges another pulse.
But even Cancer in his egg-Gundam, and Bathory and his shadowed beasts, are forced to shift their attention.
On the opposite end of the building, a behemoth of a flaming phoenix emerges. Twice the size of the MGM, and twice as wide. It rears up, on-lookers on the roof stunned. It’s immense wings spread wide, then curl in to envelope the remains of the crumbling MGM Grand.f
And then, black.
And the logo.
Welcome to UltraViolence
BUSTER GLOVES vs. SHAWN WARSTEIN
UltraViolence fades into the MGM Grand Garden Arena where a sold-out crowd is loud and rowdy. We do the camera pan to capture all the sweet signs that the PRIMEates have made for the PPV.
BATHORY OR JILES? WHOEVER WINS, WE ALL LOSE.
MY BEAR, MY GLARE, MY ELBOWS AND MY HAIR
JULIAN BATHORY SHARES A BANK ACCOUNT WITH HIS MOTHER WHICH TELLS YOU ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WHAT KIND OF MAN HE IS
WHAT DID I EVER DO IN THIS WORLD TO DESERVE AN EMPTY HEADED FUCKING DUMB FUCK LIKE COOL CANCER JILES TO GO ON NATIONAL FUCKING TELEVISION AND FUCKING GO INTO BUSINESS FOR HIMSELF?
RIA LOCKHART’S ONLYFANS IS WHOLESOME AND INVOLVES KNITTING LESSONS
REINA RASPBERRY’S ONLYFANS IS JUST HER PUNCHING KING BLUEBERRY
I SUBBED FOR THIS CONTENT SPECIFICALLY
EVERYTHING IS FALLING APART
I DIDN’T PARK IN THE PARKING LOT, ONLY BAD THINGS HAPPEN IN THE PARKING LOT
I GAVE HAYES A LAPDANCE AT THE VELVET RABBIT
MELVIN COULDN’T FUCKING MANAGE A TARGET
234,710 PENNIES AND A NICKEL FOR YOUR THOUGHTS?
CHET FLEETWOOD SHOPS AT SEARS
IS ATKEN NOW GLUE?!
FLAMBOLTON IS THE SHIP WE NEED
LET SID POWERBOMB
JARED’S BUM IS YUM
MEPHISTO FEARS THE COLLAR
GREAT SCOTT INVENTED THE 450
LET’S ALL TAKE IVAN STANISLAV TO THE VELVET RABBIT
The shot then goes to ringside and the long-time voices of PRIME: Nick Stuart and Richard Parker.
Nick Stuart: Welcome everyone to the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada for ULTRAVIOLENCE!
Richard Parker: IF JILES WINS WE RIOT!
Nick Stuart: I’m Nick Stuart, alongside Richard Parker, and we’ve got an absolutely stacked card for you tonight. 13 matches, all titles on the line, and we WILL be crowning a new Universal Champion. Let’s not waste anymore time…here we go!
It isn’t long before “Centuries Remix” blares over the PA system. The PRIMEates get loud at the opening but are quickly reminded that the man that follows isn’t one of their favorites. The curtain gets swiped to the side as Shawn Warstein steps through, to a full chorus of boos. The hood on his hoodie is up as his face stays pointing towards the ground.
Nick Stuart: Warstein coming out first, and the crowd here letting him know how they feel about him.
Richard Parker: Well, I doubt he really cares about their opinion, Stuart.
As the song begins for crescendo Shawn lifts his head and pulls the hood down. The widest, most arrogant smile is on his face. It’s as if the jeers are fueling him. The louder they get, the wider his smile goes. As he walks down the ramp several fans heckle him, but with the back of his hand he waves them off and continues, sliding under the bottom rope and into the ring.
Vince Howard: Our opening contest is for one fall! Introducing first, hailing from CHICAGO, Illinois! Shawn WARSTEIN!
Casting a sneer to the ring announcer Warstein continues towards the far corner and climbs up sitting on the top turnbuckle.
Richard Parker: Warstein is all business right now, Buster Gloves is in for a world of pain here tonight.
The lights go out. An electric guitar strums a chord before a single word appears on the Jumbotron. “BUSTER”. Then another guitar riff as the word ”GLOVES” replaces it. The lights return to the arena and Buster Gloves emerges from the tunnel. Guile’s theme song from Street Fighter II is being shredded on the guitar and Buster Gloves burst emerges from the tunnel, shadow boxing.
Vince Howard: And his opponent…making his way to the ring, weighing in at 252 pounds…from Vero Beach, Florida…BUSTER! GLOOOOVES!
Wearing a black hoodie reading the words ‘WRESTLING IS FOREVER’ on the back, Buster Gloves has a black and blue training mask attached to his face. You can’t see many of his facial features, but it’s undoubtedly him. He wears those black leather gloves that he loves so much, with the letters W.I.F.E. on the left hand.
Buster descends the ramp high fiving kids and posing for pictures with sign-holding fans. He works the crowd and they respond.
Buster climbs the ring apron, wipes his feet, and enters the ring through the second rope. He removes his shirt and ascends the second turnbuckle to play to the crowd one last time.
The music fades as Buster removes his training mask and shakes hands with Ashley Barlow.
The referee signals for the bell and our first match of the evening is now underway. Buster Gloves and Shawn Warstein begin to circle around, measuring each other up. It doesn’t last long before they are closing in and locking up in a collar and elbow to actually start the contest. The pair of them jostle back and forth for a couple of seconds, each one trying to get the advantage over the other. It is Warstein though that gets the advantage first as he drives a knee into Buster’s gut, doubling him over before driving an elbow down into the back of his head… knocking him down to the ground.
Nick Stuart: Warstein with a sharp elbow to the back of the head of Gloves, getting an early advantage as we begin this contest.
Shawn reaches down and grabs Gloves by the back of the head, raising him back up to his feet. Warstein then whips Buster across the ring, and the Bull of the North crashes into the corner hard. Warstein charges towards him, drilling him with a huge clothesline that causes Gloves to slump down onto the canvas slowly. Shawn doesn’t stop there though as he begins to drive boot after boot into the midsection of Gloves, causing him to curl up in the corner from the pain.
Nick Stuart: Warstein is relentless in the early goings of this match, could this be a sign of things to come?
Richard Parker: He’s fighting like he has something to prove here tonight.
Nick Stuart: It’s about time.
Richard Parker: Well, he’s a slow starter.
Nick Stuart: He must have taken the bus, because I’ve seen sloths move faster.
Warstein grabs Buster’s left leg, dragging him out of the corner and to the middle of the ring before placing his right boot on the face of Gloves and spinning. Warstein walks over and drapes his arms onto the top rope, a sinister smile on his face as he soaks in the boos from the crowd. He shakes his head then walks back over to where Buster is still writhing on the mat, clutching his face. Shawn drops to his knees, placing his right hand onto the throat of Gloves and begins choking all the air out of him. Referee Barlow is warning Warstein to break the hold with the start of a five count, but he doesn’t let it get past three.
Nick Stuart: And an illegal choke here by Warstein. I know you said he has something to prove tonight, but this is the wrong way to go about it.
Richard Parker: Looks like he’s sending the right message to me.
Warstein rises back to his feet, pleased with the negative response from the crowd. He soaks it in for a moment, then turns and grabs both of Buster’s legs, placing his left leg through them both and crossing them over before twisting Gloves onto his stomach and pulling back with the sharpshooter.
Nick Stuart: The sharpshooter is applied and Gloves could very well tap out right here.
Richard Parker: Quitting would be the smart thing to do here, but intelligence is not one of his strong suits.
Gloves desperately shakes his head to try and get some energy back into his system, enough for him to be able to make it to the ropes. Barlow drops down to her knees to ask Gloves if he wants to give it up, but Gloves refuses to give Barlow an answer and instead begins to slowly pull himself towards the ropes, his grit and determination on display for all to see.
Nick Stuart: Gloves is refusing to give up, and he is slowly pulling himself across the ring. Now that is a statement!
Richard Parker: Yeah, that he isn’t very bright.
Warstein shakes his head in disgust as Gloves continues to pull himself towards the ropes. He finally reaches them and referee Ashley Barlow orders Warstein to break the hold, which he does. Buster remains down on the mat, clutching at his knees. Gloves may have broken the hold, but the pain was already inflicted. Warstein drags Gloves up to a vertical base, but his knees are weak and he is barely able to keep himself on his feet. He doesn’t remain on his feet for long though, as Warstein hooks him in a front face lock and lifts him up and over his head. Warstein keeps Gloves up in the air for a few seconds, before spiking Gloves head first into the canvas with a devastating stalling brainbuster.
Nick Stuart: My God what a damaging move by Warstein and this could be all she wrote folks as Warstein slides into position and hooks the far leg of Gloves, looking to end the contest early.
Shawn reaches his foot toward the rope, but cannot reach it..
Instead, he grabs a handful of tights and yanks as hard as he can to gain a bit of leverage..
Nick Stuart: NO! Buster gets the shoulder up right before Barlow can slap the mat for the three count!
Warstein hits the mat in frustration. He doesn’t dwell on it too long as he rises back to his feet, dragging Gloves up as well. Warstein goes for an irish whip, but Gloves reverses it and Warstein hits the ropes instead. On the return Gloves leaps into the air and catches Warstein square on the chin with a picture perfect spinning heel kick.
Both men remain down on the canvas, Gloves still hurt from the sharpshooter and damaging brainbuster. Barlow begins to count out both men. Barlow gets to six before stopping dead in her tracks as Shawn’s hands begin to tug on her shirt.
Barlow shouts at Warstein to get his hands off her as he continues to pull himself up. Gloves is slowly making his way to his feet as well, using the ropes for leverage and as Warstein turns around to face him, Gloves charges, looking to wipe him out with a strong super kick. Warstein ducks out of the way though and Gloves, unintentionally, wipes out the referee, Barlow’s head snapping back from the impact when it hits the mat.
Nick Stuart: GOOD GOD! Ashley Barlow has just been wiped out cold with that Super Kick from Buster Gloves, and now we have no referee.
Gloves throws his head back in frustration, as that was not his intended target. Buster turns away from the referee to look for Warstein, the adrenaline running through his veins keeps him moving quickly after the beating he took at the start of the contest. Warstein begins to crawl towards the ropes, but Gloves doesn’t allow him to move very far as he charges across the ring and leaps forward, both feet connecting with the side of Warstein’s head, sending him sprawling out in the middle of the ring.
Nick Stuart: And a beautiful front dropkick to the face of Warstein. Gloves is clearly in control of this match now after a slow start of his own.
Richard Parker: But the referee is still out cold, will somebody please throw a bucket of water on Barlow. We need her to be awake to count the pin.
Gloves charges across the ring, leaping over the body of Warstein on his way as he leaps forward and lands on the middle rope before catapulting himself 180 degrees in the air and connecting with a picture perfect moonsault on Warstein. Buster remains over the body of Warstein, but the referee is still out cold and there is no pin forthcoming. The crowd chants to five before Gloves rises back to his feet and walks over to Barlow, shaking her a bit before attempting to help her to her feet.
Shawn struggles to get to his feet, using the ropes as leverage as he shakes the cobwebs out for a moment. He looks over and notices Gloves helping Barlow to her feet. With Buster’s attention elsewhere, Warstein uses this opportunity to slowly stalk over to where Buster is standing. Without hesitation, he drops to a knee behind Buster and delivers a crouched uppercut that causes Gloves to tense up immediately, before crumpling to the mat like a sack of potatoes.
Nick Stuart: NO!
Richard Parker: Gloves is definitely going to need an aspirin in the morning.
Nick Stuart: Not like this, Buster had this match won.
Richard Parker: Guess he shouldn’t have tried to kick Barlow’s head off her shoulders.
Nick Stuart: That was not intentional.
Warstein hooks the leg as Ashley Barlow drops to the mat and starts the count…
The booing from the crown echoes in the arena as Barlow continues…
She doesn’t notice Shawn’s feet on the second rope, he knew she was at the wrong angle to notice it.
Nick Stuart: HIS FEET ARE ON THE ROPES!
Nick noticed it. Richard covered his eyes with his hands.
Nick Stuart: BUSTER GOT THE SHOULDER UP!!!
Barlow signals for the bell.
DING! DING! DING!
Richard Parker: Split second too late, Nick.
Shawn Warstein rolls under the bottom rope, landing on his feet and stumbling back as he heads up the ramp. He clutches at the side of his face, where Buster Gloves landed that dropkick earlier. Buster Gloves just lays there in the center of the ring, his eyes closed as he tries to catch his breath. It’s hard enough to catch your breath when a feather brushes against them, can you imagine someone’s forearm shoving them so far up your throat they bounce off your tonsils.
Yeah, he is in some serious pain.
Nick Stuart: Shawn Warstein steals a win here in our opening contest and I’m getting word that we’ve got some goings-on backstage. Let’s head there now.
YOU. ME. WE.
We cut to Anna Daniels. The Muse is walking towards the staging area. Her face shows nothing but determination. That is, unless she looks down to her right. Walking alongside her is one Bucky Rex Daniels, thankfully unarmed at this moment. Being the good boi he is, even his mother can’t stay too serious when looking down at him. As they draw close, Bucky stops, ears perked up. He turns around and stares for a moment before bolting off, barking as he does.
The Time Lord calls his name and starts pursuit as the quick canine darts around the corner. She catches up a few seconds later. By that time, Bucky is on his back, down, tongue hanging out of his mouth… As he gets a wonderful belly rub from a woman with pink hair.
“Who’s the goodest boi?! Is it you? Yes it is!” Ria Lockhart coos as she expertly gives Bucky’s tummy delightfully scratches. As Anna draws near, Ria stands up, leaving Bucky disappointed. She offers Anna a warm smile. “Hey.”
The warm smile is echoed in Anna’s face as Bucky scampers back to her side, proud that he found his friend. There’s a small bit of discussion within the Multitudes considering how to respond. Should they be reserved? The question comes and goes quickly and passively. Ria is still Ria, even after everything she went through. Best to be casual. The Prime holds her hand up towards all the others. She can handle this. The vessel’s mouth forms words.
“Hey, sis. How’s tricks?”
Who in the everlasting fuck did that come from? Somewhere, the Prime shrugs. Stuff pops out when it needs to. Unconsciously, she gives ear scratchies to her pup which make the already wagging tail go even faster. Lockhart tilts her head and sends a pleasantly confused glance back towards Anna.
“I dunno what that means. Unless you’re talking about the cereal, in which case, decent!” Ria chuckles after speaking. “We haven’t really gotten to see each other much since I left… I know it doesn’t have to be said, but you know I’ll be cheering you on tonight. You got this!”
Ria’s words echo through the hallway, her tone excited. Big events like Ultraviolence require big energy. Though unlikely that the Prime would need such motivation, her mutually adopted sister was clearly making sure Anna would have it one way or another.
A shake of the head. They briefly consider telling her what the phrase meant but overall decide against it. “We figured you would!” The smile turns into a grin as Anna suddenly steps up and ruffles Ria’s hair playfully. “And you’re right! We haven’t seen each other as much since everything happened.”
This is said as they know full well that it’s every bit their fault as it is hers. Perhaps even more so. Yes, the little sis Anna never had was in a facility taking care of her issues. But they could’ve stopped by. Hell, they thought about stopping by. Then the flurry of thoughts hit. Would that have hindered her progress? Could it still? In the end, they chose to just let things play out as they should without any input from the Multitudes. Let Ria decide her own fate. Running around other universes and dealing with Mephisto only made the wait last a bit longer.
Then another thought struck. “Did we tell you that we missed you yet?”
Ria beams. “You didn’t. I figured that was the case… But it’s still nice to hear!” She pauses for a moment before locking eyes with the Muse. “I admire you, ya know? I can be a mess at times. Even now, I struggle. I’m better, but I’m not perfect. I look at you… You’re strong, you’re confident. I used to be a bit envious of you. But I realized, I could be like that. I’m still working on it though.”
Quiet takes over the area. It’s not an awkward silence or any kind of unfortunate effect of emotion. Things that could, and maybe should, have been said were coming to the forefront. Pent up positive emotion, flowing out like water from an opened gate. Ria steps forward, wrapping her arms around her big sister.
Somewhere in the background of Anna’s mind, Firebug lights a cigarette and snarks that perfection is a myth. Everybody else rolls their eyes, having heard this particular rant more times than they care to count. There is also a temptation to tell her that it took a lot of time, way too much thinking, and a massive amount of work to get to this point. Another shakes her head, muttering that there’s nothing to admire…
But they opt for something simple. A return of the hug. “You’ll get there. We have faith in you.” And they all do have that faith. Meanwhile, Bucky looks at this and whines. Anna’s eyes dart over to him. “What? We can’t help it you don’t have arms!”
“Yeah! It also doesn’t help you might be the only one in PRIME shorter than me!” Ria playfully chides the canine. Both bend down to give Bucky some attention. Remember, good boi, deserves pets. While still gently scratching the dog’s ears, Lockhart’s eyes again meet the Time Lord’s.
“Speaking of having faith in someone… I know I said you got this. I truly believe that. Take Mephisto’s ass down so you can move on to bigger, better things!” The Rainbow Rock emphatically states. She flashes Daniels one last encouraging smile.
A confident smirk pops up in response. “Thank you. That’s the idea, anyway.” But of course, there are many different ways this can go. Maybe they will beat him. Maybe he’ll beat her. Maybe she ends up broken. Maybe he crumbles under the weight. Maybe shenanigans will ensue and a blood lava monster shows up to ruin the whole thing. It is this uncertainty and the scope of endless possibility that makes living like the humans fun, in a way.
Another quick hug from the Muse and then… “We gotta go, Bucky. Gotta see this through to the end.” The black lab barks in approval as the vessel’s eyes look at her little sis again. “And remember, we’re drinking after all this. We have some catching up to do.”
Anna blows Ria a kiss as she walks off straight towards another fine mess she’s gotten into.
DOG COLLAR MATCH: ANNA DANIELS vs. JACOB MEPHISTO
Cut to a long shot of the ring. Lying in the middle of the mat is an ominous chain, attached to two dog collars.
Nick Stuart: UltraViolence is only getting heated up, folks!
Richard Parker: And things are gonna seriously get heated in this next match-up, Nick!
Nick Stuart: I’ll agree with you there, partner! In the culmination of a long and bitter feud that’s spanned at least two federations, Anna Daniels and Jacob Mephisto will meet in the ring to settle the score in a Dog Collar Match!
Richard Parker: You know, Nick, I think Anna Daniels made a huge mistake when she made this challenge. Jacob Mephisto has a history with this kind of match. That kind of familiarity can only work to his favor, don’t you think?
Nick Stuart: I will indeed agree that Jacob Mephisto’s history with Dog Collar matches has been well documented. However, it can’t be understated that those matches have left an impact on the All-Father. The brutality that comes from a fight while you’re bound within mere feet of your opponent is bound to leave scars, both mental and physical. And knowing the Muse as we do, she’ll no doubt be wanting to use that ugly, traumatic history to give herself the psychological edge in this battle!
Richard Parker: I dunno, playing mind games with the master of mind games sounds like shooting yourself in the foot to me.
Nick Stuart: Let’s take it to the ring, where Vince Jabos is ready to make the announcements!
The arena lights flicker, dim, then die, plunging the sold out crowd into darkness. The hard riff of Blues Saraceno’s “The Dark Horse Always Wins” rips through the speakers as a single spotlight shines down onto the entrance stage and the PRIMEview lights up with the image of a burning Joshua tree alone in the desert at night.
Deliver me from evil
Deliver me deliver me from sin
Deliver me from evil (yeah)
Deliver me again (never)
From the darkness beyond the spotlight, Jacob Mephisto steps forward, the light washing away the shadows around him. He stares directly down at the ring, fixating on the steel chain with leather collars on either end that sits in the center. His eye twitches a single time before he throws his arms open wide, revealing the New Era logo painted on his chest.
The dark horse… the dark horse
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, the following contest will be a Dog Collar Match! Introducing first, hailing from Nazarath, Pennsylvania… he weighs in at two-hundred and sixty five pounds… the PATRIACH… JAAAAAACOOOOOBB MEEEPPHIIIISSSTOOOOOOOOOO!!!
The Patriarch begins his trek to the ring, never taking his eyes off the chain lying there like a recurring nightmare he’s walking toward. Mephisto steps. Up onto the ring apron, hesitating for just a moment as he eyes the leather collars at the ends of the chain before he steps through the ropes.
Mephisto makes a point not to touch the chain or collars as he goes to a neutral corner, awaiting this fresh hell.
The entire area fades to black, causing the PRIMEates in attendance to steadily come to a hush. After a moment, the beginning guitar notes of Solid Space’s “A Darkness In My Soul” begin. Nothing comes on the PRIME*view to note exactly who is coming out. Suddenly, a spotlight pierces through the dark pointed to the top on the entrance ramp. Anna Daniels stands there, her profile positioned towards the light. She lets it wash over her while letting the fans get a good look at the merchandise. Finally, she glances at the ring with a small smirk on her face.
Vince Howard: And the opponent… from Mount Perdition, Gallifrey! Weighing in at one-hundred and thirty-five pounds… she is the TIME LORD… AAAAANNNNAAAAAA DAAAANNNNIIIIIEEEEEELLLLSSSS!!!
As The Muse takes her time heading to the ring, she wistfully observes the goings on around her as if getting into a certain type of groove that only she can hear. Her strolling sways almost like she’s dancing from time to time. Her robe and headpiece–once more regal and dazzling artifacts from her home planet–are in various stages of disrepair and utter damage. Anna slaps a hand or two, nods a little to those in attendance. Once ringside, she motions for somebody to take the robe and headpiece which when taken nearly make the poor sap fall over.
She makes her way to the stairs and slinks along the apron, wiping her feet before entering the ring. Immediately after, she nearly chases off the ref in a sudden blur of action before smiling yet again. Casually, she strolls to a corner with her head bopping before perching herself onto the top rope laid out like a French girl people like to paint.
Nick Stuart: The Muse can’t wait to get started! Meanwhile, Jacob Mephisto already looks visibly shaken!
Richard Parker: No, Nick, that’s just his pre-match psych up!
Nick Stuart: Don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone psych themselves up by shaking their head and sweating profusely.
Official Elvis Nixon calls both competitors to the center of the ring. In either one of his hands he holds a collar. Daniels snatches her own and affixes it around her own neck, eagerly smiling back at Mephisto with evil intentions on her mind. Jacob steels himself as the referee moves behind him to secure the other collar… and now all the separates them is a few feet of metal chain.
One of Mephisto’s hands anxiously clutch the chain bound to his neck. His teeth are grinding and his eye is twitching. Contrarily, Daniels is grinning like a shark that smells blood in the water. He-Who-Hates has been set free.
Seeing them ready as they’re going to be, Elvis Nixon cues for the bell.
Mephisto instinctively wraps his arm over the chain to keep the tension off his neck and put more onto his opponent’s. Anna feels the pull, but quickly yanks the chain to pull Jacob into a toe kick to the midsection.
Nick Stuart: Daniels makes the first move, and immediately begins putting the fists to the side of Jacob Mephisto’s head! Mephisto is left reeling, and Daniels capitalizes with a swinging neckbreaker!
Jacob sits up wincing in pain, but immediately forgets it when the dog collar around his neck pulls into his windpipe. He claws at it while Anna pulls on the chain with both hands and presses a boot into his back for added leverage. He quickly rolls out, but puts himself right into position for a front facelock.
Richard Parker: You know, some people would pay to be treated like this…
Nick Stuart: And I bet you’d pay double to watch, partner. Back on the action, Daniels sets up for the DDT… NO! Mephisto sweeps the leg, flips over into the bridge for the cover!
Quick kickout right at the two!
Mephisto quickly sits up, but Anna is already thinking ahead by looping the chain around his neck a few times. Before Jacob can react, she pivots, pulls down on the chain, and throws him over her shoulder by the neck! Mephisto lands hard, but doesn’t get a moment of reprieve when she pulls him up again for another, earning a pop from the fans!
Nick Stuart: Jacob Mephisto is being thrown mercilessly around the ring by the Time Lord, who is showing she knows how to take full advantage of the chain binding those dog collars together!
Richard Parker: Yeah, she knows a thing or two about yanking chains alright. How much you wanna bet she practices this at home with Bucky?
Nick Stuart: Have a heart, Rich!
Huffing for breath while sitting on the mat, Jacob hooks his fingers into his collar to protect his windpipe. Meanwhile, from behind him, Anna claims the extra slack of the chain and viciously whips it down across his chest! Mephisto moans in agony, with every snap of the cord leaving a red mark across his pectorals.
Richard Parker: Mercy! Mercy! That man has a FAMILY, dangit!
Daniels continues to whip Mephisto until he works himself up to his feet to get away, but obviously can’t get too far. Anna frees up the chain from her hands to wrap her arms around the waist, transitioning smoothly into a released German suplex!
Nick Stuart: Daniels from behind with the German suplex–NO!!
Jacob transitions smoothly as well, landing perfectly on his feet. Instinctively, he keeps backpedaling until he reaches the ropes, then grabs the end of the chain and backrolls to the outside.
Daniels can do nothing as weight and gravity pull her off her feet and nearly garrotte her over the top rope. Now Anna is the one grasping her throat and struggling to breathe. Mephisto, getting his breath back, smiles wickedly while he watches her suffer.
Nick Stuart: Mephisto threw himself out of the ring and used the momentum to hotshot the Time Lord! I’m loath to admit it, but that was smart thinking on the part of the Patriarch.
Richard Parker: Smart? Try brilliant! That’s exactly the kind of strategy we’d expect from someone who’s survived this kind of match enough times in his career, Nick!
With two handfuls of hair, Mephisto pulls Daniels far enough under the ropes that he can clock her with repeated elbow strikes to her face. With the chain looped over the full set of ropes, she doesn’t have the room to get away, and can therefore only cover up and weather the storm.
Richard Parker: See what I mean? Jacob was a little shaken up there at the start, yes, but now that survival instinct is finally kicking in!
Nick Stuart: What a vicious assault we’re watching! The tables have turned, as Mephisto keeps slugging away at the face of the Time Lord! Daniels can’t go anywhere! Now what’s THIS?
Mephisto repositions Daniels to be parallel with the ropes, and sets himself on the apron behind her. He pulls her into the bottom two ropes, using them for added leverage as he snakes his arms around her head into a sleeperhold.
Nick Stuart: Jacob Mephisto now with the rear naked choke, using those ropes for added leverage!
Richard Parker: Not only brilliant, but creative! I can see how this guy has so many followers.
Nick Stuart: No disqualifications are allowed, given the stipulations of this match! Anna Daniels is in a very precarious position here! If she can’t free herself from–WAIT! There’s an elbow! And ANOTHER!
The Time Lord has one free arm and just enough space to spear him multiple times right in the breadbasket using the point of her elbow. Jacob’s grip loosens with every strike, until he’s finally knocked from the apron to the floor. Daniels rallies herself to her feet and takes hold of the top rope…
Nick Stuart: Daniels with the CORKSCREW BODY PRESS TO THE OUTSIDE!! Jacob Mephisto just got LAID OUT! Anna Daniels had only one place to go, and she went there in style!
The PRIMEates roaring on the Multitudes as she rises up to her feet and sees Mephisto on all fours. A killer’s focus crosses her face as she sets… and runs forward, leg aiming for his head, but–
Richard Parker: A-SWIIIING-BATTAH!
Nick Stuart: Mephisto rolls out of the way in the nick of time to avoid a disastrous punt to the skull! But Daniels smells blood in the water!
The All-Father is on the retreat, but can’t get any further than the few feet allowed by the cord between their necks. Daniels plants her feet and tries to reel him back, but this time, Mephisto goes with the pull and the added force slingshots him shoulder first into the ribs, slamming her up against the apron.
Nick Stuart: The Patriarch with the surprise body check, and now Daniels is reeling! Mephisto pulls her in and pivots around… GOOD GOD, SNAP SUPLEX IN THE EDGE OF THE RING!
The Time Lord wails in agony, clutching her spine. Mephisto stands over her and admires his work for a moment before pulling her up and rolling her back into the ring. He follows and wastes no time making a cover.
Nick Stuart: Mephisto with the pin!
Daniels gets the shoulder up! And Mephisto does not look pleased with official Elvis Nixon.
Richard Parker: Can you blame him? He’s probably thinking, the sooner he gets that thing off his neck, the better!
Getting back to work, Jacob thoughtfully throws Anna’s half of the chain back out of her shoulder, and out of the immediate reach of her arms. Before she can get far, he clinches up her head and goes in heavy with repeated knee strikes! One finally hits its mark well enough to bring the Time Lord to a knee, and Mephisto wrangles her head under his arm.
Nick Stuart: Jacob Mephisto has Daniels hooked… lifts her up into the COME AND SEE!
Richard Parker: Oh, we’re SEEING, alright! Seeing AND believing!
Daniels comes crashing down head-first off the delayed brainbuster! The air is sucked out of the arena off the sickening impact. Grinning with delight, Jacob hooks the leg.
Nick Stuart: Cover made!
KICKOUT by Anna Daniels!
The grin disappears. An eye twitch takes its place. Now incensed, Mephisto tears up to his feet, plants his boot at the back of the vessel’s skull, and pulls up on the chain with all might. Anna digs her thumbs under the collar to keep her throat all but barely open. The boot pressing down one way while the collar being tugged in the other bends her neck at a terrifying angle.
Nick Stuart: My God, he’s going to BREAK HER NECK, if he doesn’t choke the life out of her first!
Richard Parker: It’s kill or be killed when you’re being yanked around that ring by your neck, Nick! Looks to me like pretty sound strategy.
Nick Stuart: This isn’t strategy! This is nothing short of torture!
Richard Parker: Hey, I didn’t hear you complaining when he was being sub to her dom earlier.
Mephisto switches up from a straight press to straight stomps to the side of Anna’s head. The Time Lord finally acts with a sweep that catches him behind the knee joint and takes him to the mat. Her eyes are unfocused, but knowing she only has precious seconds to move, she digs and keeps moving to the corner. Behind her, Jacob is back up and in pursuit.
Nick Stuart: Hang on, Anna Daniels may have found her window of opportunity here! She finds the corner, and here she goes UP TOP–NO!! A quick JERK of that chain yanks her back down, slamming the back of her head into the turnbuckle pads!
Richard Parker: That’ll teach ya to try any of that flippy nonsense!
Mephisto’s tug on the chain has pulled Daniels into the Tree of Woe. The shot to the back of her head has her looking dizzy again, but she recalibrates in time to see Jacob running in. She sits up just in time to miss a running knee to her face by the All-Father. Out of desperation, she tumbles the other way to the outside.
Mephisto SHRIEKS when he sees the chain go tight.
Nick Stuart: DANIELS TO THE OUTSIDE, pulling Mephisto INTO THE CORNER! The Patriarch is TRAPPED!
Mephisto claws at his neck once more, and his legs do a dance in the throes of agony and desperation. Outside the ring, Daniels is dexterously suspended upside down, feet propped on the corner post. She’s using all of her weight and gravity to pull down on the chain, and it almost looks like his head may pop off at any moment!
Richard Parker: How is she doing that?! This is some Multitudenal witchcraft, I tell ya! Do something, Jacob! This is how we lost David Carradine!
Out of desperation, Mephisto pitches himself. Both he and Daniels take hard bumps on the ringside floor.
Richard Parker: Attaboy!
Nick Stuart: Ooh, my… Anna Daniels took another hard blow to the back of the head on that landing.
Richard Parker: Well Nick, it’s not like anyone asked her to whip out her best Spider-Man impression.
Both competitors lie out of sorts on the ringside floor. Mephisto is heaving for air. His eyes are showing that he’s reliving old pain along with this fresh, new sensation. Daniels is dazed and shaking out the cobwebs. The Multitudes in her head are likely piled on top of each other right now.
Nick Stuart: This match has been nothing short of the all out battle we expected! Both of these competitors have already taken a massive toll on their bodies to take it this far, but neither looks willing to give in!
Richard Parker: Poor Jacob! Can’t he just have one easy dog collar match in his life?
Nick Stuart: I don’t think this type of match was ever meant to be “easy”, Rich.
After a few moments of recovery, Mephisto makes it to his feet first. Daniels is still reeling as he peels her back to her feet and takes ahold of the chain.
Nick Stuart: Mephisto YANKS HER into the PRIDE BEFORE THE FALL!! My GOD, what a vicious clothesline!
The voracious smile returns to his feet. Despite the crowd jeering him, he is in absolute delight. He brings Daniels to her feet again.
Nick Stuart: The Time Lord pulled up again–ANOTHER PRIDE BEFORE THE FALL!! This is SHEER BRUTALITY right now!
Richard Parker: She tried to take his head, so now he takes hers!
Nick Stuart: There’s a sick grin of depravity on the face of the All-Father, as he pulls Anna Daniels up for the third time! I don’t know if she can withstand another–SHE DUCKS THE CLOTHESLINE!!
The Multitudes stay in motion as Daniels reflexively whips around the post, slips in under the ropes, and kicks off the bottom turnbuckle while pulling the chain in a fast-acting maneuver that yanks the unsuspecting Mephisto forward!
Nick Stuart: Mephisto KISSES the steel post! And now Daniels reels him back into the ring using the chain! She’s got him right where she wants him!
Richard Parker: Look out, Jacob!
Nick Stuart: PUNT TO THE HEAD!! It CONNECTS!
The crowd POPS at the sight of the kick sends Mephisto flopping onto his back! Wasting no time, Daniels falls across his chest.
Nick Stuart: The Time Lord with the cover to win it!
…wait, Nixon stops the count!
Richard Parker: The heck…?
The official points to the right shoulder of Mephisto…
Nick Stuart: His shoulder is on the CHAIN!
Richard Parker: HA! Brilliant defensive move!
Nick Stuart: Brilliant? That was nothing but blind LUCK! That should have been a three count…
Richard Parker: We may never know, but regardless, “should have” ain’t gonna cut it!
Daniels is furious with the official, but nevertheless pulls the chain out from under Mephisto’s shoulders.
Nick Stuart: Here we go, she makes the cover again!
THR–NO!! Mephisto LURCHES back to life at the last second!
Jacob rolls out and savagely claws at the canvas to get away. But his panic is only heightened as the chain gets wrapped back around his neck and he’s pulled back onto his feet. Daniels stands back-to-back with the All-Father, and she wraps his head up into a three-quarter bulldog. Mephisto has nowhere to go but down into a neckbreaker cutter!
Nick Stuart: SOMBRAS QUE CORTA!!
Richard Parker: Ay dios mio!
Nick Stuart: And she’s not finished! The Time Lord sits Mephisto up and hooks the arms to bring him to his feet… TIGER SUPLEX!! BEAUTIFUL bridge for the pin!
…but then Daniels pulls the Patriarch into position and begins to wrangle him into the Cobra Clutch Triangle Choke.
Nick Stuart: DARK SIDE OF THE MOON! Daniels is working him into the triangle!
Richard Parker: No, Jacob! Fight it! Breath! Breath in the air! DON’T BE AFRAID TO CARE!
Mephisto does as Richard pleads, but it’s a losing battle. The crowd POPS…
…but not in reaction to the move. Rather, to the fast-moving form that has darted through the curtain and is sprinting down the runway.
Nick Stuart: Wait a sec… who?
Richard Parker: IT’S BUCKY!! Finally! The REAL star of the show has arrived!
The Time Lord’s canine companion, a creature overwhelmed by such a massive ovation in an even more massive environment, excitedly runs a circle around the ring while errant stage-hands fruitlessly give chase. The PRIMEates are both cheering and aweing at the sight of the adorable pupper taking a self-guided tour of the UltraViolence set-up.
Nick Stuart: What’s going on here? How did Bucky get free?
Richard Parker: Somebody SAVE THE DOG! There’s a fight happening nearby!
The Multitudes, perhaps bound to this creature by an affection that can’t be easily explained but wholly understood by all, can’t help but take her attention away from clinching Jacob Mephisto away into the infinity to the outside, where Bucky is loose and running amok. Being herded around by these mindless drones.
Mephisto doesn’t look the gift horse in the mouth…
Nick Stuart: Hang on, MEPHISTO SLIPS LOOSE!!
Just as the loose dog disappears back through the curtain, all the attention goes back to the ring where Mephisto has himself gotten loose from the triangle and scrambles back to his feet. Daniels kips up and kicks high… but Jacob takes the low road.
Richard Parker: YES!
Nick Stuart: Mephisto ducks the kick, and puts Daniels into the Fireman’s Carry! Going for the MOMENTO MORIS–
Richard Parker: NO!
Nick Stuart: SHE SLIPS DOWN HIS BACK!! The Time Lord spins him around… HOOKS THE ARMS…
With his head protruding out from under her arm, Mephisto’s eye visibly twitches. He sees the loose chain dangling between them, looping behind her heel. Looping his own. He makes the connection.
Nick Stuart: ONCOMING STO–WAIT, NOOO!!
Before she can lift him up for the brainbuster, Jacob throws his leg back and trips Anna to the mat using the chain wrapped around their legs. With his arms free, Mephisto loops the chain around the Time Lord’s neck a few times, winches off all the available slack, and goes after her legs…
Nick Stuart: NO QUARTER!! NO QUARTER!! He’s got it LOCKED IN in the CENTER OF THE RING!
Richard Parker: She’s FINISHED!
Nick Stuart: Good God, look at how that chain is wrapped around their neck! Daniels is turning BLUE!
The Time Lord’s arm is reaching out… but the chain constricts her neck like a noose, while the elevated cloverleaf applied by Mephisto forces the blood to rush down to her head.
The Patriarch’s eyes are open and skyward. He is screaming like a madman!
Finally, the arm goes limp. Nixon has no choice but to call for the bell.
DING DING DING
The crowd thunders with disapproval. Nixon slaps Jacob on the shoulder, but when he doesn’t break the hold, the official is forced to pull him right off. Mephisto leaves Daniels behind while he ferociously tears the collar from his throat and throws it to the mat.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, here is your winner, by referee stoppage… JJJAAAAAAACOOOOOOB MEEEPHIIIISSSTOOOOOOOOOO!!
After giving the chain one more spite-filled kick, the All-Father pumps his arms and roars in victory among the jeering crowd.
Nick Stuart: After a fierce, amazing battle, Jacob Mephisto finally scores his first victory in PRIME! What a war we just witnessed!
Richard Parker: That was a helluva reversal at the end there. Jacob’s instincts in this match can’t be denied at this point.
Nick Stuart: For a moment there, I thought for certain that Anna Daniels had that match in the bag. We may never know how this would have turned out had Bucky not gotten loose.
Richard Parker: Distractions are easy excuses, Nick. What we just witnessed was experience, wit, and sharp reflexes coming together at just the right moment. Something nobody can teach in wrestling.
Nick Stuart: Be as it may, Anna Daniels doesn’t leave here tonight without taking a piece of the All-Father with her. Despite the victory, I don’t think Jacob Mephisto’s experience with this type of match is going to soften any time soon.
Richard Parker: Nonsense! Let’s just go ahead and make Jacob Mephisto the undisputed KING of the Dog Collar Match! Give him another! Hell, give him TEN more! Let’s see Jacob Mephisto show PRIME just who is in control of the chain!
Nick Stuart: Not sure he’d be interested in that idea, partner…
While the official revives Daniels in the ring, Mephisto walks back up the ramp. His eyes stare out for miles, but remain still for now.
COMMERCIAL: ACE NETWORK
“No, seriously. It’s in Saskatchewan.”
Given the current state of him, you’d never know King Blueberry had a match later this evening. Not yet dressed for combat, he’s currently going over last-minute entrance details with the ever-beleaguered Mark. That Mark is alive at all given his, ahem, poor timing is a minor miracle in itself, but here we are.
Hey, speaking of Mark, what the hell is his official role now that Melvin no longer works for the MGM Grand?
Backstage Assistant Mark: With all due respect, I don’t think ninja preserves are a thing.
Around them, each member of the Jimmy Bonafide Dancers collects a bundle of black clothing before heading to a dressing room in turn.
Each member except Biff. He’s been sent to fetch the Plot Hole.
King Blueberry: Then where do you think the ninjas go, Mark? Because they have to go somewhere. Now I don’t know if this is like the humane society stepping in, or if this was negotiated as part of their union contract…
Backstage Assistant Mark: Union contract?!
King Blueberry: Do the ninjas not unionize where you grew up?
Mark shakes his head before distracting himself with a wooden palette piled high with smoke machines, because this joke is never going away, Craig. You hear me? Never.
Striding past Mark is one half of the tag team Fighting For Nora, though not the one who usually hangs out with King Blueberry. Paxton Ray casually taps Mark on the shoulder as he passes.
Paxton Ray: Sup Mark.
The Lafayette Bruiser then walks up to King Blueberry and waits for the tag champion to notice him.
King Blueberry: Oh, Paxton. Glad you’re here. Maybe you can settle a debate for us. Do you happen to know the employment structure of the ninjas in Louisiana?
Paxton stares at King Blueberry, then turns to Mark for a moment, then stares back at Blueberry. After a minute, he shakes his head.
Paxton Ray: Nope. Not acknowledgin’.
He claps his hands.
Paxton Ray: Actually came to ya for a real reason, not to do…whatever this is.
The Blueberry nods, and briefly turns his attention to Mark. Mark, for his part, looks like he would rather be anywhere else on the planet. Because he would.
King Blueberry: Gonna need you to handle it from here, Mark. Keep an eye out for Biff, okay? And Carl might need some help getting into costume. They didn’t have his size available, so I had to order one size smaller.
Mark opens his mouth to speak, but isn’t able to get a word out before his presence is immediately forgotten as Blueberry turns back to Paxton.
King Blueberry: Sorry about that. Didn’t have time for a dress rehearsal, so we’re kind of flying blind here. Anyway, what’s on your mind?
Paxton looks down and chuckles.
Paxton Ray: I’m kinda makin’ a habit out of these supershow visits, ain’t I?
Paxton Ray: Anyway, I didn’t get a chance to thank ya for Rev14. Ya had Jon’s back while I was…well, while I was busy. So thanks.
King Blueberry: Not a problem. Felt like the right thing to do. I’ll admit I was wrong with my take on Bathory. My fault for giving him the benefit of the doubt. I’ve got a history of doing that.
King Blueberry: Kind of a blind spot, I guess. But I couldn’t be sure if Shanahan or one of the other ALL-CAPS MESSIAH weirdos might be there, so… had to be done.
Paxton Ray: More than that though, thanks for…ya know, for bein’ friends with him again. I know ya didn’t do it for me or anythin’, but I think he really needs friends right now.
King Blueberry: I think it’s been good for both of us. I mean, sure, things were a little heated for a while, but something I’ve started to figure out is that if you let it then that shit’ll just eat you alive from the inside. Besides, we’re the last of the SCCW folks still active, which basically makes us an endangered species. Gotta stick together.
Paxton Ray: Right. Well, good luck out there. I’ll see ya later.
King Blueberry: You too.
Paxton starts to walk away. After a few steps, he turns around.
Paxton Ray: I also never told ya how much I appreciated ya being there for Nora at the dinner. She loves the hell outta ya. Even right now when she won’t talk t’me, she tol’ Shweta to tell me to wish ya good luck. So…good luck.
Paxton walks away, nearly bumping into Mark on his way out.
Paxton Ray: My bad.
From the best to the worst, we present… the Bandits!
Cancer Jiles finds himself sitting in front of his locker, bent over in his chair as he runs the laces through the eye holes of his salt white boots. He appears calm, COOL, and collected as if he’s not about to have one of the biggest matches of his career, because to him, it’s just another day at the office.
Presumably his last day at the office, and he’s taking the stapler with him.
Next to King COOL and sprawled across two chairs is a slumbering Doozer. Already dressed in his gear, he lies there with his head slumped down, his chin to his chest, and an open laptop resting on his lap. He must have taken his Metamucil and figured it was the perfect time for a cat nap.
Cancer Jiles: There there old boy, get your rest. If you guys lose my chances go up….
Suddenly the door to the locker room bursts open and a frantic looking Bobby Dean steps in, looking around crazily, as if he’s lost something. The sudden arrival of the large man causes Cancer Jiles to casually look up, a single eyebrow quirked above his mirror reflecting T-Shades.
Bobby Dean: Where is he? Have you seen him?
The future Universal Champion sighs before turning his attention back to his boots.
Cancer Jiles: I don’t know who or what you’re talking about. I want you guys to win. Whoever was whispering otherwise is a jerk.
Bobby Dean: Doozer of course! Flamberge and Nate are about to begin and we’re on deck. I can’t find him anywhere!
Cancer Jiles: Dooze? Nope, I haven’t seen him in a week or so. In fact the last I heard he was going to a wedding but he swore he’d meet up with us after. No big deal. Not a big show or anything.
Bobby Dean: Dang it! If he makes me go out there by myself we’re doomed.
Cancer Jiles: Bobbo, I hate to break it to you, but I don’t like your chances even if you CAN find the Old Bull. No offense.
Before Bobby can respond, the door to their locker room opens once more as Annabelle Dean makes her grand entrance. Walking in with a mischievous twinkle in her eye and a smirk on her face, she casually walks across the room holding the largest cotton candy on a stick either man has ever seen.
Bobby Dean: Where’d you get that?
Little ‘Belle ignores her questioning father as she walks up to the sprawled out Doozer and roughly shoves his feet off the spare chair before plopping herself down. With his feet falling to the ground, Dooze jerks awake.
Doozer: Huh. Wha. Whe.
The old man begins to sputter as if it takes a minute for his brain to reboot and wake from sleep mode. Bobby never tears his eyes off the neon pink cotton candy, watching as his daughter slowly brings it up to her mouth to tear off a bite with a chomp of her pearly whites.
Cancer Jiles: Oh look there he is. Who knew?
Bobby Dean: Hey! I asked you a question young lady, where did you get that?
Doozer: Wait, what time is it!?
The laptop drops to the floor with a clatter as Super-Doozer jumps out of the chair and to his feet, frantically looking across the room to the large wall mounted clock. Seeing that it was almost time for their match, Doozer offers a very un-Doozerly curse under his breath, before quickly rushing towards the exit.
Bobby Dean: I swear, if you don’t tell me where you got that I… and if they are running some sort of a deal where the more you buy the cheaper it is—
The rest of that sentence is cut off as Doozer grabs Bobby by the lapels of his robe as he passes, dragging the big man behind him as he makes his way out the door.
Doozer: Why didn’t you wake me up, BOB?! Let’s go already. We’re gonna be late!
Jiles and Annabelle are left alone in the room together, so what could possibly go wrong?
Cancer Jiles: You know, diabetes is hereditary.
Annabelle Dean: How many title shots can you lose before you accept the fact that you suck?
Cancer Jiles: How’s about one more than the amount of pimples on your face. That number alone should keep me in the good graces of the main event for the next decade or so of wherever I wind up.
Annabelle Dean: Yeah, all of us are really gonna miss you.
Sarcasm. What a joy.
FLAMBERGE vs. NATE COLTON
We cut back to the ring, where the opening guitars of “Tryin’” by the Eagles greet the fans. The crowd rises as Nate Colton bursts through the curtains, heading for the ring wearing his blue satin jacket, emblazoned with the name “COLTON” on the back.
Vince Howard: This contest is scheduled for ONE FALL! Introducing first… from Evansville, Indiana! He weighs in at two-hundred and fifty-five pounds! NATE! COOOOOOLTOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNN!!!
Nate reaches the ring, climbs up the stairs, and steps through the ropes and into the ring. Once he’s there, he starts taking his jacket off. He doesn’t even show off his gear. His jacket is already dumped out to the floor for the poor ringside attendant to collect, and he paces impatiently in the ring.
Nick Stuart: You can tell how all-business Nate Colton is here. He’s raring to go.
Richard Parker: That’s a mistake, Nick. FLAMBERGE is going to choke his dumbass out, and then he’s going to drink the tears of the whole Colton family.
“Dangereux” by IAM. The crowd boos. Like, a lot. FLAMBERGE almost explodes out of the curtains, walking with a driven purpose that he normally doesn’t display.
Vince Howard: His opponent! From Strasbourg, France! He weighs in at two hundred and six pounds! This! Is! FLAMBERRRRRRRRRRRGE!
FLAMBERGE foregoes his usual lap around the ring. He stomps up the stairs and steps through the ropes, and immediately steps right into Nate Colton’s space. Only the presence of referee Jimmy Turnbull prevents things from starting before he can call for the bell.
Richard Parker: Look, if I were the referee, I’d just let these two slug it out and go get a sandwich or something. Let them sort it all out between them.
Nick Stuart: That’s not how that works.
Richard Parker: Yeah, you’re right. There’s never a good sandwich place when you need one.
Nate Colton doesn’t back down, either. He stands there and stares down at the smaller man, eager to get things started. And FLAMBERGE only backs down because referee Turnbull physically puts himself between them, ordering both of them to their respective corners.
Once they were there, Turnbull signals for the bell.
DING DING DING
Nate Colton starts to circle, looking for the collar-and-elbow. But FLAMBERGE walks directly at Nate, not wanting to play that game. When they do lock up, it’s aggressive from FLAMBERGE’s part, as he tries to push Colton into the corner. But Colton is a much bigger man, and isn’t as easily manhandled by the smaller Frenchman. Not in that way, anyway.
Eventually, Colton muscles FLAMBERGE into the corner, and the referee administers a five count to get them out. After a count of four, the two men aren’t out yet, so Turnbull takes it upon himself to break them up.
But don’t worry, FLAMBERGE has a great idea on how to get Nate Colton out of the corner. It’s the answer to an age-old joke, told through generations.
“What did the thumb say to the eyeball?”
Well, nobody said it’s a good joke.
Nick Stuart: Cheap shot by FLAMBERGE!
Richard Parker: That’s my boy!
Colton steps backwards, his hand up in his eye. This allows FLAMBERGE to easily take him down with a double leg takedown, and then quickly transition to a mounted position. FLAMBERGE then moves to try and grab the jujigatame, only for Nate to pull his arm free before FLAMBERGE can even get his legs around it. Pure power. FLAMBERGE goes wide-eyed at how quickly he lost the armbar, but he quickly recovers from the surprise and goes to grab the chinlock.
Nate takes FLAMBERGE’s arm as it comes around his neck, slips out, and gets him in a hammerlock. And FLAMBERGE hates it if the disgusted grimace on his face is any indication. He fights up to his feet, and hits Nate with a few back elbows to try and break out of the situation. On the third back elbow, though, Nate ducks and grasps him for an attempt at the Exploder suplex.
FLAMBERGE hates that idea, too.
He hits Nate with several more elbows, driving the point down onto the back of his head. The third one breaks the hold, and lets FLAMBERGE get away for a moment. Then he comes back in to press the advantage, only to be met with a side headlock. A headlock takeover follows this up, and FLAMBERGE can only slap the mat in frustration. Just once, though. He’s not tapping out. That’s for cowards and Quebec, as far as he’s concerned.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE is getting frustrated here. Nate Colton’s regained control, and grinding down FLAMBERGE.
Richard Parker: I don’t like this clean-cut country boy and I think the Eagles are a stupid band, so FLAMBERGE should hit him in the eye a few more times. Just to make sure.
Nick Stuart: Will you stop?
FLAMBERGE eventually grabs Nate by the waist and rolls him over into a pin. This gets two, before Nate shifts his weight and puts himself right back on top of FLAMBERGE. This happens again, and again, it only gets two before Nate rolls back on top.
FLAMBERGE waits, and then wraps his leg around Nate’s neck. Nate tries to block it using his arm, but that creates a gap in the side headlock that lets the Frenchman wiggle out of the hold. He tries to snatch a side headlock of his own, but Nate manages to slip out and go right back into the hammerlock. Once again, FLAMBERGE can only slap the mat in frustration.
But that’s all it is. Frustration.
Nick Stuart: Nate Colton still in control, grinding on that hammerlock.
Richard Parker: It’s not going to last. FLAMBERGE is too good to lose to a mere hammerlock. Viva la France!
Nick Stuart: …Did you seriously just say “Viva la France”?
Eventually, FLAMBERGE gets back up to his feet, and grabs Nate’s head. He kicks up his legs and goes into a snapmare. Only, Nate doesn’t let go of the hammerlock, so when Nate goes over, FLAMBERGE goes over with him. And boy, judging from the very colorful French escaping his lips, he isn’t very happy about it.
Richard Parker: So, Nick, I speak a little French. Just a little. Mostly the fun French.
Nick Stuart: Yeah?
Richard Parker: So trust me when I say that if I translated what FLAMBERGE just shouted about Nate Colton’s mom… well, I’d probably get fined faster than you can say “Rezin”.
FLAMBERGE gets to his feet, and fresh out of ways to get out of his predicament the normal way, he’s forced to make it to the ropes to get the referee to break Colton’s hold. The moment Colton releases the hold, FLAMBERGE takes an annoyed powder out to the floor.
That’s FLAMBERGE kicking the steel stairs in frustration.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE is not happy right now, and he’s taking it out on those steel stairs.
Richard Parker: Yeah, well, they owed him money. He’s just scaring them to pay up.
Nick Stuart: What? Can we donate your brain to science so we can find out how it works?
Richard Parker: No.
A fully fuming FLAMBERGE, frustrated, frets furiously at his foe. He’s pissed, is what we’re trying to say.
He paces around outside, and fans should be glad that the guardrail is there for a reason. If any of them looked at him funny or laughed at him or was kinda just there where he could see them, he’s liable to give them some hands.
On the inside of the ring, Nate Colton’s feeling himself. No, not in that “show hog” kind of way. I mean that he’s smiling at FLAMBERGE’s frustration. He can’t help himself. He also can’t help himself but to invite FLAMBERGE in by wedging himself between the ropes, sitting on the middle rope with his shoulder pushing up the top rope. Inviting the Frenchman back into the ring.
FLAMBERGE, his hands on his hips, can only glare at him with unconcealed contempt. He immediately jumps up on the apron and aims a kick at Nate’s ribs. Nate sees it coming, so he dodges it and hits FLAMBERGE with an elbow, knocking him off the apron again.
Nate Colton pursues him out on the floor. The time for wrestling acumen seems to be over, and the first thing Nate does when reaching a recovering FLAMBERGE is grab him by the head and slam it onto the ring apron.
Richard Parker: Okay, so it’s not looking good for the French kid, I won’t lie.
FLAMBERGE stumbles away from Colton, who presses his advantage and stalks after him. Nate catches up to him, and goes to slam his head against the steel steps. This time, however, FLAMBERGE reaches up and thumbs him in the eye.
Nick Stuart: Another thumb in the eye from FLAMBERGE! Second time in the match!
Richard Parker: Aw, yeah, that’s the stuff, kid!
FLAMBERGE, as we all know, is dangereux. Especially if you take your eyes off of him. Especially if you take your eyes off of him in front of some steel stairs. He steps into Nate, and heaves him over his body with a judo-style hip toss.
And into the steps.
FLAMBERGE, being dangereux and merciless, is on Nate Colton like a Pirate King on meat. He gets on top of the scion of the Colton family and rains down fists on his head. He is, however, mindful of the referee’s ten count. So he pulls Nate to his feet and throws him back into the ring before the count reaches eight, and then rolls in after him at nine.
The moment he’s back in the ring, he casually stomps on Nate’s head. Several times. A lot of times. Enough that referee Turnbull had to administer a five count to get him to stop. FLAMBERGE stops and gives Turnbull a death glare.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE can’t risk getting disqualified here, but… Nate Colton’s in a lot of trouble right now.
Richard Parker: The most trouble. The trouble-est.
FLAMBERGE backs off, only to immediately come back in and pull Nate to his feet. The suplex he delivers to Nate feels like something he just makes up on the fly. Something half-Exploder, half-hammerlock. Nate hits the canvas on top of his own arm, and he comes up clutching his shoulder. FLAMBERGE pushes him back to the canvas and puts his knee on Nate’s chest with a contemptuous cover, his hands still on his hips.
It only gets two.
He actually looks up at Jimmy Turnbull with a nonplussed expression, as though he couldn’t believe that he’d dare to give him a two count with such a great cover.
Nick Stuart: Lackadaisical cover by FLAMBERGE, a better cover could’ve secured the win there.
Richard Parker: Yeah, but a cover like that would assert his dominance. Like if he T-posed.
FLAMBERGE places himself at Nate’s back, and starts dropping elbows onto the top of his head. From 12 o’clock high to 6 o’clock low. After three of these, FLAMBERGE stands and hits the ropes. When he comes back…
That, right there, is the sound of a kick straight to the back of a man’s spine. It’s unpleasant to hear. We’re going to guess that it’s equally as unpleasant to be on the wrong end of.
FLAMBERGE, dangereux but also cocky as all hell, raises his arms into the air for the crowd to see. They react as you might expect.
He sees Nate Colton trying to roll over to his feet, and that simply won’t do. He bounced himself off the ropes and hit Nate in the face with a running boot, spinning Nate from his hands and knees and onto his back. FLAMBERGE’s next cover is even more contemptuous than the last. He simply puts a boot on top of Nate’s face and demands that Turnbull pin him. He doesn’t even pose more than placing his hands on his hips when he does it.
This doesn’t even get a one-count. Nate shoves FLAMBERGE’s foot off of his face as equally as contemptuously as the cover itself.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE is spending way too much time clowning around out there.
Richard Parker: It’s not clowning around. It’s all very tactical, and… yeah, okay, maybe I wouldn’t suggest covering a man like that.
FLAMBERGE responds to this by grazing Nate’s face with his bootlaces, then steps on his face and gives a little twist.
Nate’s still trying to get up, despite FLAMBERGE’s absurdly disrespectful offense. Or maybe because of it. Hard to say. FLAMBERGE recognizes this better than anyone, so he takes a step back, and…
…kicks him right in the chest. The blow staggers Nate, keeping him from getting all the way to his feet. He’s on his knees, now, and FLAMBERGE tees up again.
Second kick. A smile finds itself on FLAMBERGE’s face. Oh, yes. Prepare to die. He aims the next kick higher.
And Nate stands up at the last second, his hands catching the foot of the French phenom mid-swing. FLAMBERGE’s expression suddenly goes from cocksure to cockuncertain. His hands go up, not quite pleading, but rather because he’s trying to punch Nate before he can do something bad to his leg.
Not that it’d dissuade him.
Nick Stuart: Dragon screw by Colton! …Into the half-crab!
Indeed, Colton holds on to the leg after the dragon screw, and rolls right into the half crab. FLAMBERGE is suddenly in a lot of trouble, and he knows it. His arms flail in the hold, as he tries to find some sort of traction that would enable him to get out of the hold. Colton, for his part, is using a free hand to check his face to make sure that FLAMBERGE didn’t cut him open. A small mouse seems to have formed just next to his left eye.
Nick Stuart: Just like that, Nate Colton’s turned this thing around! He’s going full hog with this half crab!
Richard Parker: Oh no! I don’t need him to show full hog!
The problem is that Nate only has one arm locked into the half crab, and his stance isn’t what you’d call ideal for keeping it locked in. In particular, his back foot is perilously close to FLAMBERGE’s reach. And indeed, FLAMBERGE seizes upon it, pulling Nate’s foot back until he loses his balance and falls on his face. FLAMBERGE scrambles out from under Nate, and then roundhouse kicks him right in the back of the head the moment he’s back on his feet.
Nick Stuart: Good LORD, what a kick from FLAMBERGE!
Richard Parker: Contact Morty, we have need for a mortician!
Nate slumps over, and this time, FLAMBERGE covers him seriously.
FLAMBERGE’s eyes go wide as Nate shoulders up with authority. He stands up again, and starts stomping Nate while he’s still down. A lot of times. Many times. But every time he does it, it seems to be less effective. Nate rolls to his stomach enduring the stomps, and then gets to his knees. By now, FLAMBERGE’s kicks are less like strikes, and more like disrespect. Pushing him with the soles his boots rather than kicking him.
Then Nate stands.
The look in his eyes say everything that need to be said.
“Is that all you’ve got?”
FLAMBERGE backs into the ropes and comes back for an elbow. Nate doesn’t even let him get that far. He charges FLAMBERGE right as he hits the ropes, and smashes him with a forearm. This rocks the Frenchman, whose legs fly up on impact, and the only reason he’s not on the ground regretting his many recent life decisions is because the ropes keep him aloft.
Nate turns and runs into the ropes again. A second forearm puts FLAMBERGE through the ropes, landing on the apron and falling to the floor.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE is out here in front of us!
Richard Parker: Oh no! That’s where I don’t want him to be!
Nate steps through the ropes, standing on the apron. He’s not known for high flying. He’s not someone who flies gracefully, as though carried by the wings of angels. But this is UltraViolence. You go big, or you go home. And as a man who still owes us a hog to be shown, Nate Colton knows only one mode.
He goes big.
He takes two steps, and then flies off of the apron.
Nick Stuart: NATE COLTON WITH A THESZ PRESS OFF THE APRON!
Richard Parker: That’s not a small man to be doing that!
Nate stays on top of FLAMBERGE and rains down right hands on the Frenchman. The fans go wild as Nate batters him, to the point that referee Turnbull actually gets out of the ring to try and get Nate off of his opponent. Eventually, he does. Nate pulls FLAMBERGE up, and hoists him up onto his shoulder. FLAMBERGE has the look of a man who does not want none of this, and he tries to line up more 12 o’clock elbows that work until 6 o’clock on Nate’s head. However, the attacks aren’t effective. He doesn’t have the right angle of attack.
And Nate Colton isn’t about to let him find one. He charges at the ring post, and drives FLAMBERGE’s spine right into it.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE into the ring post! He’s in trouble, Rich!
Richard Parker: Get out of there, kid! You know what they say about wild hogs!
FLAMBERGE is reduced to crawling on his hands and knees to the ring apron. Nate roughly helps him into the ring. And by that, I mean he slams his head into the ring apron before he rolls in after him. Helpful!
Back in the ring, Nate goes on the attack using his size advantage. He picks up FLAMBERGE by the waist, Karelin lift-style. FLAMBERGE immediately tries wriggling out, trying to reach out to grab something, anything, to get him out of the predicament. And then Nate suplexes him.
Uh, more than once.
After the gutwrench suplex, Nate presses his advantage and grabs FLAMBERGE in a front facelock. A snap vertical suplex follows, and Nate immediately floats over into the cover. A two count later, and Nate knows that he needs to hit harder.
Nate’s not done, and hoists FLAMBERGE up by the waist, looking for the German. FLAMBERGE, not wanting to be taken to the Greater Metropolitan Area of Suplex, wraps his leg around Colton’s to prevent him from being thrown. So instead, Nate grabs his arm, and transitions.
Nick Stuart: COLTON CLUTCH!
Richard Parker: Oh no! Get out of there, FLAMBO!
There is panic. FLAMBERGE flails with his free arm, trying to find a way out of this situation. The leg, still wrapped around Nate’s own, prevents Nate from going into the Colton Clutch Suplex that’s sure to follow if it were freed. But the problem with the Colton Clutch in particular is… it’s still a submission. Even if Nate couldn’t get the suplex, he can still make FLAMBERGE pass out right here and now.
FLAMBERGE knows this. After all, he’s living that life right now, and he’s not a fan. But as is the case for twice in the match so far, FLAMBERGE goes back to his universal counter.
A thumb to the eyes.
Instantly, Nate releases the hold.
FLAMBERGE looks happy about what he’s done, and unhooks his leg from Nate to start his offense again. At least, right up until Nate surges back into the waistlock.
Nick Stuart: GERMAN! WITH A BRIDGE!
Both men are down after the German, but Nate’s back up at the referee’s count of five. Nate goes to pull FLAMBERGE back up to his feet, but FLAMBERGE grabs a handful of tights and yanks him forward into the turnbuckles. Nate rams his face into the middle turnbuckle as a result.
FLAMBERGE pulls back Nate into the center of the ring.
Nick Stuart: What’s FLAMBERGE doing… oh! Komi goshi… into the cross armbreaker!
Richard Parker: He’s doomed!
Nate Colton is not doomed, but he’s pretty close to it. The moment he hits the mat from the judo throw, he manages to reach up and grasp the arm that FLAMBERGE still has a hold on. The end result is that FLAMBERGE is unable to fully hyperextend Nate’s arm. Nate rolls over, trying to get a pin on FLAMBERGE, but after a one count, FLAMBERGE forcefully tries to use his leverage to put Nate back down and into the jujigatame.
It, uh… doesn’t work.
Nate remains standing, and uses his power advantage to bodily lift FLAMBERGE into the air with one arm. FLAMBERGE has a look of shock on his face, but it’s only momentary. He shifts his weight on Nate’s shoulder, and comes down behind him.
Nick Stuart: GERMAN SUPLEX!
It’s the release kind. Nate lands on his upper back, momentum causing him to roll over… and come up on his feet. When FLAMBERGE turns, he sees Nate charging in on him.
Nick Stuart: A KNEE FROM FLAMBERGE!
This jumping knee only staggers Nate Colton, so FLAMBERGE runs into the ropes behind him to follow up.
Nick Stuart: ANOTHER ONE! Nate Colton is in trouble here!
Nate is staggered, and FLAMBERGE – still dangereux, mind you – knows that the end is near. And if the end is near, then he has a go-to for that.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE is measuring him here… looking for the axe kick!
It’s not the most beautiful axe kick he’s ever attempted. It’s rough and malcontent, something more purpose-driven than flashy. Maybe that’s why he loses his balance when Nate moves his head out of the way before FLAMBERGE can hit him with it. Colton shoves him into the ropes, and when FLAMBERGE comes back, he picks him up in a tilt-a-whirl before coming down with a shoulder breaker!
Nick Stuart: SHOULDERBREAKER!
Richard Parker: Oh no!
Nate can’t capitalize. His own arm has taken some damage in this match, and he’s still dizzy from the knee strikes. The cover he attempts is not something he’d do normally, he just lies on top of FLAMBERGE.
Nick Stuart: Another kickout! Who’s going to walk out of here with the win?
Richard Parker: Someone whose first language isn’t English, Nick!
Nate gets up first, and he pulls FLAMBERGE up. He hooks him in for an Exploder suplex again, but FLAMBERGE starts hitting him with elbows, using the arm that didn’t just take a shoulder breaker. The elbows are enough to make Nate back off, and then FLAMBERGE throws a wild kick at his chest.
You could’ve heard that thing from fucking space.
Nate Colton staggers back… and then responds with a closed right fist that rocks FLAMBERGE, staggering him back and dropping him to one knee. Nate, too, drops to one knee.
They glare at each other, heavily breathing. Nate ignores referee Turnbull’s admonishment about the closed fist, keeping those daggers for eyes squarely on FLAMBERGE’s own sharp stare. Obviously, FLAMBO’s stare is sharp. He is the only man on the roster whose very name announces his intent to stab you.
FLAMBERGE is the first to strike, landing another rough kick to Nate’s chest.
Nate throws a right hand, which staggers FLAMBERGE back.
FLAMBERGE uses the space to land another rough kick.
And Nate responds with another right hand, which rocks FLAMBERGE and staggers him back into the ropes.
Nate follows up, hitting him several more times in the ropes with more right hands. The crowd goes “YAY!” several more times, before Nate whips him into the ropes. FLAMBERGE, however, rebounds with a knee strike.
Nate staggers backwards into the ropes… and then rebounds back.
Nick Stuart: OH MY GOD! WHAT A LARIAT!
Said lariat hit so hard that FLAMBERGE almost lands on his head from the impact. However, Nate doesn’t recover right away from it, and both men are down once again as the crowd loudly cheers.
Richard Parker: How the hell is Nate Colton finding the energy to match blows with someone like FLAMBERGE!? It makes no sense!
Nate crawls over on top of FLAMBERGE, and puts an arm over the top of him.
At the last possible second, FLAMBERGE gets his shoulder up.
Both men take some time to recover, but Nate’s up first. He pulls FLAMBERGE up and pushes him into the corner. A right hand rocks FLAMBERGE, and only the corner keeps him standing. FLAMBERGE is hoisted up to a seated position on the turnbuckles, and Nate climbs up to join him.
Nick Stuart: Dangerous territory here. Nate Colton looking for a superplex, and FLAMBERGE… FLAMBERGE is fighting back!
FLAMBERGE hits Nate with several elbows to try and dissuade him from the superplex. Nate still persists, right up until FLAMBERGE hits him with a headbutt.
Nick Stuart: OH! A meeting of the minds! And Nate Colton…
FLAMBERGE gives Nate a big shove, and he flies off of the second ropes and to the canvas. FLAMBERGE sits on the top turnbuckle, just as dazed as Nate likely is, but as he sees Nate trying to get to his feet, he does the only thing he can do in his situation.
…Into the GUILLOTINE.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE HAS THE MARIE ANTOINETTE! THE HEAD IS HOOKED! BODY SCISSORS LOCKED IN!
Richard Parker: It’s over! IT’S OVER! IT’S GOT TO BE OVER!
But it isn’t.
FLAMBERGE wrenches on the hold desperately. It’s put down so many others in PRIME. Why isn’t it working on Nate Colton? He’s dangereux, after all!
The fans are yelling and cheering, and chanting.
PLEASE DON’T TAP!
PLEASE DON’T TAP!
PLEASE DON’T TAP!
And through it all, it isn’t over yet.
Because Nate’s still standing. Even if he can’t breathe. Even if he’s fading. Even if the world around him is fading fast. He still stands.
He grabs FLAMBERGE’s arm. And of all the things that have happened in this match, this is the thing that has FLAMBERGE wide-eyed the most. Because Nate Colton, through his brute strength, is physically breaking the hold. FLAMBERGE desperately tries to sink the hold back in, even as Nate’s broken the grip on his hands. He’s so focused on it that he doesn’t realize that he’s losing grip on the body scissors. It’s inexperience.
And it costs him dearly.
Nate grabs hold of FLAMBERGE’s leg. And with a heave, he throws the Frenchman over his shoulder.
Nick Stuart: EXPLODER! AN EXPLODER OUT OF THE MARIE ANTOINETTE!
Richard Parker: IMPOSSIBLE!
FLAMBERGE hits the canvas, rolling into a seated position in a daze. Nate recovers in time to grab him, sinking in the Colton Clutch again. He yanks him up to his feet, and then…
Nick Stuart: COLTON CLUTCH SUPLEX! WITH A BRIDGE!
Richard Parker: NO!
DING DING DING
Nate Colton collapses onto his back exhausted. All FLAMBERGE can do is flop onto his stomach, defeated.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen! THE WINNER OF THIS MATCH… NAAAAAATE! COOOOOLTOOOOOON!
Richard Parker: I don’t believe it!
Nick Stuart: What tenacity by Nate Colton, to find a way to win in dire straits! You have to think that FLAMBERGE’s inexperience might have cost him there. If he hadn’t lost control of the Marie Antoinette, you have to believe he would’ve won this match.
Richard Parker: What a travesty! One that can only be fixed if you buy glue.
Nick Stuart: Please stop.
In the ring, Nate Colton gets his arm raised. Meanwhile, FLAMBERGE can only sit in the corner, staring in disgust at what just happened.
NEEDS MOAR GAS
After such an amazing match between FLAMBERGE and Nate Colton, one would think that the show would just end because that was clearly a match worthy of the main event. Crazy enough, this show just started. We have so much more to go, and part of the awesome sauce that is still yet to come involves one of the men standing here in the backstage area.
That would be the man with the forever smile, and a newly released pair of ‘G’ shades that are only available on his new ETSY page. You can also find the #ADOREME tee he is wearing on that site as well, because Anna Daniels refused to put his flea market quality bootleg merch on the main site. She said something about not being able to sell a shirt on the main site for $24.95 when it looked like he bought it at a Dollar Tree and had a five year old write #ADOREME in black Magik Marker. Joke is on her, because he bought the shirts at a thrift store and wrote it in Sharpie himself.
Domingo Cruz is standing behind him on the left, in a painted on black t-shirt. A mustache and soul patch the only hair he has, as his head is shaven smooth. Frank Pastore is behind him on the right, in a blood red button up shirt that has the top two buttons undone.
Matt Mills is there too, completing the quartet with a microphone in his hand. He brings it to his lips.
Matt Mills: Ladies and gentlemen, I’m standing here with Tony Gamble and the other two members of the newly formed Gamble Adoration Syndicate.
Tony Gamble: That’s right, and tonight we’re going to be adding a new member to the Gee Aye Ess… Macrology Kjedelig.
Matt is thrown off for a second, but being the professional he is plows forward like a fifteen year old running back playing ten and under peewee football.
Matt Mills: I think you mean, Mortimer Kickshaws.
It’s Tony’s turn to look a bit confused.
Tony Gamble: That’s what I said, Muriform Kjedelig
Domingo Cruz: Mortimer
Frank Pastore: Kjedelig
Mills takes a moment to look at the two men flanking Tony, taking a few seconds on each of them as Tony’s smile widens.
Tony Gamble: It’s nice to have a couple of guys that have my back, that are here to make sure that I am on my game… to make sure that I am not attacked unprovoked like I was at ReVolution 14.
Matt Mills: I think you meant ReVival 14.
Frank folds his arms across his chest, and leans forward with his lip curled into a snarl.
Frank Pastore: That’s what he said.
With catlike skill, Matt steps back instinctively
Okay, okay, he actually just flinched really hard.
Anyways. Before Tony was so rudely interrupted, he was talking about the unprovoked attack from Mortimer Kjedelig at Revival fourteen. It takes him a moment to remember it all, but it hits him like a ton of feathers that scatter in the wind upon contact.
Tony Gamble: I brought in two of the best people I know. Domingo here is as tough as they come, and he is one of the best techni…
Tony trails off, having turned to his right and finding Frank standing there instead of Domingo. He does a double take.
Tony Gamble: Did you switch places with Cruz?
Pastore answers with a nod before speaking,
Frank Pastore: Yeah, right before Mills walked up with the cameraman.
Tony Gamble: Damn Houdinis. Now what was I saying… Oh, yeah! Domingo is one of the best technical wrestlers I have ever seen inside of a ring, and that is something I am very familiar with. I’m a bit of a technician myself, so I know a thing or two about a thing or two.
Matt Mills: Riiiightttt. Now about your upcoming match with Mortimer… If he loses he will need to join the Gee Aye Ess, but if he wins you promised to stop attacking him. These assaults have been random and without provocation, why not just stop altogether? Why make it a stipulation in your match?
Tony Gamble: Did I tell you about my boy, Frank? Frankie here is a tough son of a bitch, that has been through it. He had a brief run in Defiance and took down some of their best stars at the time. One of them being that piece of shit, Bronson Box. Let me tell you, he’ll put your ass through a wall just for looking at him funny.
Matt Mills: Awesome. Now about this stipula…
Tony Gamble: That doesn’t matter, Matt my boy, because tonight we gain a new member and pretty soon you may even see us proving our dominance in HOW or SHOOT, maybe even the SOV.
Matt Mills: Wait, are you saying you’ve signed a PWA contract.
Tony just flashes his trademark grin and starts to walk away, his entourage not far behind.
DELIVERY FOR GREAT SCOTT
We focus on the outside of the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Most of the fans are already packed inside of the building as the show has already gone live. We shift from the front of the building to the back of the building near the back entrance and the loading docks.
A large truck pulls into the back with music blaring and the horn being pressed frequently like a fat kid trying to beat his favorite video game for the first time. The side of the truck reads “STRONKUMMS LLC” in bold, bright letters. The security guarding the back entrance look at each other in confusion as the truck pulls to a stop. The driver’s side door of the vehicle opens and out steps HOW Hall of Famer Jace Parker Davidson.
He has on a leather jacket and has the HOW LSD Championship belt placed proudly around his waist. Jace tilts his head up and takes a look at the building where PRIME conducts their business. He listens closely trying to see if he can hear the sound of Lindsay Troy blowing her top before shaking his head. Jace begins to approach the back entrance but two MGM Grand security guards step forward and block the entrance.
Security Guard #1: We cannot let you enter the building and you cannot park your vehicle back here. Kindly re-enter the vehicle and leave.
Jace stands there and looks the Security Guard up and down without speaking.
Security Guard #2: Are you hard of hearing or something, buddy?
A slight smirk tugs at Jace’s lips as he turns his attention towards the second Security Guard.
Jace Parker Davidson: Oh, I hear just fine but I need to take care of my business here before I leave this place in the dust.
The Security Guards glance at each other before shaking their heads.
Security Guard #1: As I stated before, sir. We cannot allow you to enter the building. There is a PPV event being broadcasted at the moment inside here. So, whatever business you think you have needs to be rescheduled and approved by the powers that be.
Security Guard #2: So, again, please leave the premises or we’ll be forced to remove you by force. Trust me, you don’t want us to have to remove you by force.
The grin on the second Security Guard’s face was a mile wide. Jace twists his head side to side as audible cracking sounds can be heard. The LSD Champion takes a slow, deep breath then spits the biggest, wettest loogie at the feet of the two security guards. Both men jump back a bit not wanting to get any of that on them as Jace leans back and gestures for both men to come at him.
Security Guard #1: You just signed your death warrant.
The first Security Guard reaches for the nightstick on his hip while charging Jace but the HOW Hall of Famer is too quick and lands a stiff kick below the belt of the Security Guard. The first Security Guard drops the nightstick and falls to his knees clutching his private parts.
Security Guard #2: Son of a–
The second Security Guard charges at Jace and the two men start to exchange heavy right hands back and forth. Both men refuse to yield until Jace stops the Security Guard’s momentum with a knee to the gut. Jace grabs a hold of the doubled over man and then tosses him into the back of the STRONKUMMS LLC truck. The Security Guard’s body bounds off the double doors of the back of the truck before he crumbles to the pavement. Suddenly, the doors to the truck pops up and one of Jace’s best friends pops his head out of the back of the truck.
Devin Skylar: What the hell is going on, man?!
Jace Parker Davidson: Had to go with plan B.
Jace replied with a shrug of his shoulders but the distraction of conversation with his associate was enough for the second Security Guard to get to his feet and tackle Jace from behind down to the pavement. Devin hops out of the truck and makes it a two on one situation as he pulls the Security Guard off of Jace before the two men put a beating on one of the men just trying to do his job. Next Devin’s sister Samantha hops out of the back of the truck and begins to put the boots to the first Security Guard who is still holding his groin. The noise and commotion obviously has alerted someone inside of the building as the door to the back entrance is kicked open with force.
Jace Parker Davidson: Uh oh…
Devin Skylar: Problem?
Jace Parker Davidson: BIG goddamn problem.
Both men pause their attack and look over at the 6’6” 350lb monster that is the Head of Security for PRIME. The man stands tall and looks over the chaos that has gone down outside of the building.
Dametreyus: Don’t think I don’t who you are. You’d better have a damn good reason for being here and not in Cleveland.
Samantha scurries away to stand behind both Devin and Jace. Dametreyus stands there with his large arms folded across his massive chest as Jace takes a slight step forward.
Jace Parker Davidson: I’m here on business. Always business, my good man. You see I have business with PRIME and a certain wrestler that goes by the name of The Maya Angel–
Jace pauses then shakes his head deciding to take another approach.
Jace Parker Davidson: Sorry, what I meant to say is that one of your wrestlers is a good friend of mine and a business partner. He goes by the name of GREAT SCOTT and he’s not only a PWA Megastar but he’s the first ever sponsored athlete of STRONKUMMS LLC. He has a big title match tonight and I have a contractually guaranteed shipment to deliver to him before his match tonight. Of course, I know you’re a busy man with a lot on your hands but I’m also teaming with GREAT SCOTT on Sunday night and I NEED him in the best condition possible for that match. It is imperative that he gets his Liquid STRONKUMMS. Allow us to deliver the product and we’ll be out of your hair in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.
Jace smiles the most insincere cheesy smile towards Dametreyus. Both Devin and Samantha both smile also, thinking it might somehow convince the massive man in front of them not to choose violence on this night. The second Security Guard gets to his feet then hobbles his way over towards Dametreyus.
Security Guard #2: Dam, these HOW guys are trying to invade tonight’s show!
Devin & Samantha Skylar: WE ARE NOT FROM HOW!!!
Jace holds out his arm calming the brother and sister duo down before turning his attention back to the Head of Security.
Jace Parker Davidson: We come in peace, there must have been some miscommunication. Surely, if you’re seen or better yet, tried Liquid STRONKUMMS yourself then you would clearly understand that I am nothing more but a simple business man trying to fulfill a promise to a friend.
Dametreyus raises his eyebrow as Jace turns his head towards Devin and Samantha.
Jace Parker Davidson: Get the Liquid STRONKUMMS and let’s show the man how great our product is.
Jace winks as Devin and Samantha nod their heads. They move to the back of the truck and begin gathering cans of Liquid STRONKUMMS. Jace smiles awkwardly then steps aside as Devin and Samantha begin pelting Dametreyus and the two Security Guards with cans of Liquid STRONKUMMS. Aluminum cans filled with processed low quality meat, steroids, and cocaine are indeed heavy and don’t feel too good when bounced off of your skull. The two Security Guards retreat for cover but Dametreyus just stands there unmoving while can after can of Liquid STRONKUMMS collide with his massive body and bounce off of him like he was in the middle of a pillow fight.
Jace Parker Davidson: Keep firing!
Devin and Samantha grab more and more cans of Liquid STRONKUMMS but Dametreyus slowly but surely approaches Jace and the STRONKUMMS LLC truck. Jace decides to say screw it and swings a big right hand at the chest of the Head of Security. Dametreyus is unaffected but Jace steps backwards holding his hand in pain like he just punched a brick wall.
Jace Parker Davidson: I guess you’ve been taking your Liquid STRONKUMMS too, huh?
Dametreyus: Ain’t nobody in their right mind drinks that shit.
Jace grabs both Devin and Samantha and pushes them towards Dametreyus. The brother and sister go on the offensive against the Head of Security but it’s a futile effort. Dametreyus flicks Devin aside like a fly and holds Samantha at bay by her arm. Jace reaches into the back of the truck and grabs a single can of Liquid STRONKUMMS. Jace sneaks around the other side of the truck out of sight. Jace waits until Dametreyus’ focus is totally on his friends then tip toes his way into the back entrance with the can of Liquid STRONKUMMS in search of GREAT SCOTT.
Back at ringside, referee Timo Bolamba is already in the ring and Vince Howard is climbing in.
Nick Stuart: All right, The Egg Bandits and Fighting for Nora are coming up next…
The camera zeroes in on a couple who’s sitting a few rows back from the ring.
Nick Stuart: …hey. Isn’t that Adam Ellis?
Close up- yes, it is indeed recent PRIME signee Adam Ellis out in the crowd watching UltraViolence with his wife Ginny Van Lear.
Nick Stuart: Two weeks ago after his debut win over Ria Lockhart, Adam Ellis is here at UltraViolence but he’s sitting with the PRIMEates tonight at the MGM Grand.
Richard Parker: Why is he watching the show from out there?
Ellis leans forward in his seat, chin propped by both hands.
Nick Stuart: Well, Ellis did say that he’s here in PRIME to continue his pro wrestling education, and what better way to do that, I guess, than to watch tonight’s show up close.
Ginny munches on some popcorn with one hand and puts her other arm around Adam. She is all smiling while Adam is singularly focused on what’s going on in the ring.
Richard Parker: So, why couldn’t the kid just do that backstage?
Nick Stuart: Maybe he feels it’s not the same.
Ginny feeds Adam a piece of popcorn. He eats it and then goes back to watching the show as Vince Howard is now in the center of the ring and ready to introduce the next match.
Richard Parker: Meh. Kids.
EGG BANDITS vs. FIGHTING FOR NORA
Back at ringside, we see Timo Bolamba and Vince Howard standing by for our next bout as we hear from Nick and Richard at commentary!
Nick Stuart: What a night it’s been so far folks, and we’re keeping the ball rolling as Fighting For Nora takes on the Egg Bandits! For weeks there have been some issues between the two teams, namely between the Bandits and Paxton Ray…and things are about to come to a head tonight!
Richard Parker: Things could very well go, well, ultraviolent if Paxton stays mad enough after what the Bandits have put him through!
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, the following tag team contest is scheduled for one fall! Introducing first
“Banditstruck” plays through the PA system as Doozer and Bobby Dean make their way out, amidst a chorus of boos from the crowd. Bobby seems to take particular delight in this as the pair slowly make their way down the ramp.
Vince Howard: Coming to the ring at a combined weight of 633 pounds, they are the team of Doozer and Beautiful Bobby Dean…the EGG BANDITS!
The crowd boos the Bandits, who seem to revel in the hate as they enter the ring ready for this bout.
Vince Howard: And their opponents…
The noise of the crowd is low but active, a constant buzz as they anticipate the next match. Suddenly, we hear the sound of a typewriter clicking. The PRIMEview’s black screen suddenly has one name written in Courier font.
“THE NEW LIFE” JONATHAN RHINE
Fans begin to cheer as another name is typed below the first.
As the last letter is typed, the bassline of “Piece by Piece” by Strata rumbles through the speakers. The letters on the screen start to disappear one by one.
T N IF O RHIN
A O R
And as the instruments pick up, the letters move across the screen as two Gs and an F drop from the top, spelling out the team’s name as the vocals explode in a long and garbled scream.
FIGHTING FOR NORA
At the top of the ramp the team appears. Paxton Ray enters first, scowling at the crowd. Jonathan Rhine emerges next, waving to the crowd.
I found these plastic parts and wires
Let’s split me open at the seams
And rip out everything inside
Make room for all these new machines
Sew me up and pray that I survive
A brand new me-Piece by Piece
Nick Stuart: Fighting For Nora is without their manager Shweta Kallemullah tonight. It says here that Paxton asked Shweta to watch the match with his daughter Nora because she was so nervous about it.
Richard Parker: Sweet move, but kind of stupid. The Bandits are the type to take any advantage, so Shweta not being here could be dangerous for Jonathan and Paxton.
Vince Howard: Making their way to the ring, at a combined weight 475 pounds…Paxton Ray and Jonathan Rhine, they are FIGHTING! FORRRRRRR! NOOOOOORRRAAAAA!
Stay here and watch me bleed
Watch me bleed
It’s a brand new me
Piece by piece
Rhine climbs the top turnbuckle and soaks in the cheers, his eyes closed, one arm up to the sky. Paxton Ray bounces from foot to foot, then thrusts his own fist to the sky.
After soaking in the reaction for a few moments more, Rhine finally drops off the turnbuckle and puts an arm around Paxton Ray, who doesn’t look at him but allows himself to be brought in close for a side hug.
We kick things off with Doozer and Paxton trading lefts and rights immediately, with the Old Bull looking to take the fight to the Lafayette Bruiser, sending Ray reeling toward the corner with a particularly nasty left jab. Doozer charges, looking to use his size to his advantage…but Paxton manages to duck out at the last minute, causing ol’ Dooze to collide with the turnbuckle. Doozer is quick to turn around and face Paxton, but is met with a boot to the chest for his troubles as he’s sent crashing to the canvas!
Nick Stuart: Paxton Ray really taking Doozer to task here with this offense, after weeks of shenanigans from the Bandits!
Richard Parker: I think the Bandits might’ve bitten off more than they can chew here, Paxton looks mad and rarin’ to go!
Bobby looks more than a little peeved at what’s transpiring, but continues to watch on as Paxton stays on the attack with three elbow strikes on the downed Doozer, really laying them on thick in anger before following up with a series of hard stomps…followed by a solid kick to the midsection! Doozer winces, clutching his ribs in pain.
Nick Stuart: Oh man, that looked painful! Dooze is in a world of hurt already after that kick.
Richard Parker: Ya know Nick, I’m starting to think this is getting out of hand. If he keeps this up Paxton might get himself disqualif–on second thought, stay mad Pax!
Satisfied with the damage done, Ray brings the Boston Bruiser back on his feet only to send him into the corner with an Irish whip, sending Doozer into the turnbuckle once more. Doozer doesn’t even get a chance to turn around this time, as Paxton pulls him away from the corner…and into a big right hand!
Nick Stuart: And he just doesn’t let up! Paxton’s dishing the damage out, but is he gonna cross the line?
Richard Parker: It looks like Bolambo’s not gonna let it get to that!
Timo doesn’t look pleased with the closed fist used here, and lets Paxton know as such as Doozer slowly gets back to his feet. Paxton doesn’t look like he’s done, however, swinging away at the Old Bull before finally sending Doozer to the opposite corner. He stares down Bobby Dean, who appears to want no part of the affairs as Paxton heads to his corner, finally ready to make the tag to Jonathan Rhine!
Nick Stuart: And here comes Rhine, looking ready to keep the momentum rolling!
Richard Parker: I’m just wondering how much more of this Doozer can take, he’s gotta get the tag to Bobby Dean soon!
Rhine doesn’t give the Old Bull a chance to do this however, as he hits the ropes to build momentum before stopping Dooze right in his tracks with a dropkick to the head, sending Doozer on an all too familiar collision course with the canvas below!
The crowd roars in approval, much to the delight of Rhine as he stays on the attack, looking for a leg drop…but Doozer narrowly avoids disaster, rolling out of the ring to take a breather on the outside. Bobby applauds this from the apron as Doozer gets back to his feet outside the ring, but is left in shock as Rhine hits the ropes once more…leaping over the top rope, onto the Old Bull! The crowd is on their feet now, a luxury that the two competitors have not reached as Timo checks on the outside before starting the count!
We see Rhine slowly stirring, as is Doozer as Bobby Dean shouts some words of…encouragement, at his fellow Egg Bandit. Doozer finally makes it back to his feet, but so too is Rhine as he catches Doozer with a belly to belly suplex, sending the Old Bull overhead and back down to the floor!
Nick Stuart: Wow, what a suplex by Rhine! I think he might be going for the New Life Moonsault here!
Richard Parker: On the outside? What is Rhine thinking here!?
Rhine raises his arm as the crowd cheers for him, but as he turns his back to Doozer he’s met with a double axe handle from Bobby Dean, who drops from the apron to finally get involved in this match! Timo finds himself pausing the count as he admonishes the big man for this, giving Doozer a chance to get back to his feet. He brings Rhine back to a standing position as well…only to send him into the ring apron spine first, something the crowd doesn’t approve of one bit.
Doozer pays no mind to this as he continues the attack with some lefts and rights before rolling into the ring…and back out, before Timo can resume the count. Doozer goes right back to his plan of attack, laying in some hard lefts and rights before sending Rhine back into the ring and sliding in right behind. As a smirk and a taunt in the direction of Paxton Ray, Dooze sends Rhine up and over with a belly to belly suplex of his own, before stomping away in retaliation from Ray’s earlier beatdown.
Nick Stuart: And now it seems Doozer has the advantage here, making an example out of Jonathan Rhine right in front of Paxton Ray!
Richard Parker: It’s a bold strategy Nick, let’s see if it pays off!
This, of course, sets Ray off…but Timo cuts him off as he tries to get involved, leaving an opening for Doozer to send Rhine to the corner where he and Bobby double-team the New Life with some stomps. Bobby quickly heads back to the apron just as Timo turns back around, avoiding any further chastising from the head referee. Doozer sends Rhine to the ropes, looking for a clothesline on the rebound…but Rhine ducks it, using the ropes as a springboard to catch the Boston Bruiser with a cross body splash!
Rhine senses his opportunity here, the roar of the crowd giving him a sense of focus as he heads over to the nearest turnbuckle. We see Doozer getting to his feet, noticing Rhine in the corner…and Doozer goes charging blindly toward the New Life, only for Rhine to climb up and leap toward the Old Bull with a backflip into the corkscrew dropkick! The crowd is thrilled at the sight of this, but as Doozer drops to the canvas we see that not all is well with Rhine!
Nick Stuart: Jonathan’s clutching his ankle after that corkscrew dropkick, Richard! He twisted that ankle recently, and it looks like it may be nagging him once again.
Richard Parker: That’s a rough time to have it happen too, these Bandits will sense that like blood in the water!
Sure enough, Doozer notices Rhine favoring his ankle and immediately pounces on the opportunity, aiming his kicks at it to wear Jonathan down. Doozer sets him back up to his feet once again, looking for that lifting underhook DDT he calls the Abuser…but Rhine manages to slip out of it! Rhine catches Doozer instead with a kick to the head that sends the Boston Bruiser reeling back slightly.
Nick Stuart: Looks like Rhine’s still got some fight left in him!
Richard Parker: I think I see what he’s going for here, but can he connect with it?
We soon see what Richard is referring to as Rhine pulls Doozer in, looking for that sit-down 180 uranage slam…but he struggles to lift Doozer up at first, the ankle getting to him. He goes for it a second time, but Doozer hits him with an elbow before taking to the ropes for a running shoulder tackle…but against all odds, Rhine manages to catch Doozer on the rebound, finally connecting with the Rhine Rewind! Rhine still looks hurt but he does his best to make the cover, as Bobby steps in to try and stop it…only to be cut off at the pass by Paxton, who finally gets his measure of revenge as Timo makes the count!
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, your winners via pinfall…FIGHTING! FOR! NOOOOOORAAAAAA!
Nick Stuart: What a win for Rhine and Ray here, over the Egg Bandits! No doubt Nora’s enjoying this moment from home as Paxton in particular finally gets one over on the men who have been taunting him so much as of late!
Richard Parker: This was a decisive victory for the pair as well, and I gotta wonder how the Bandits bounce back from this!
Nick Stuart: Do eggs bounce, Richard?
Richard Parker: I…what?
Nick Stuart: Never mind, the important thing is Fighting For Nora take the victory, likely climbing back up the tag team ranks in the process! Folks, in just a moment we’ll be seeing our show’s name really come to a head as the Intense Championship is defended in a Mask versus Mask affair! The Anglo Luchador will be defending both the title and the honor attached to his visage against the Mask of Balaam, and things will get brutal!
Jonathan Rhine lingers in the ring as the music continues to play. He kicks his foot out, trying to get feeling back in it.
Nick Stuart: Looks like Rhine is still feeling the effects of that twisted ankle he suffered during the match.
Richard Parker: Correction, the twisted ankle he suffered trying to impress his date last week. Tryhard.
Paxton Ray has one leg on the outside apron, straddling the ropes, when he sees Rhine’s struggles. Nodding to himself, he steps back in the ring and walks over to his tag team partner, offering an arm.
There’s some slight miscommunication; instead of placing his arm over Paxton’s shoulder, he pulls Paxton into a hug. Shocked for a moment, Paxton pulls Jon in and reciprocates, whispering something in his ear. The fans at ringside notice and give a small cheer.
Nick Stuart: And that’s why this tag team is special, Richard. They have known each other for only a year, but they have formed a quick bond that has vaulted them near the top of PRIME’s vaunted tag team division. Chemistry like that will get you far in this world.
The words have only escaped Stuart’s lips for moments before the statement gets contradicted. For years, internet message boards will use this video clip for comedic relief, to mock Stuart or maybe even the sport in general. Nick Stuart will refuse to watch this clip, not because he doesn’t want to hear himself sound silly, but because he can’t stand to watch what happens next.
Because what happens next is the Lafayette Bruiser separates himself from Rhine, says one more word, and lifts him into the air before hitting him with a punch to the mouth.
Nick Stuart: WHAT?!
Richard Parker: Lafayette Lullaby! On his own partner!
Rhine falls with a thud to the canvas. The crowd who had just cheered for Fighting For Nora’s display of unity now boo for its demise, as Paxton Ray looks down at Rhine, snarling. He bends down and grabs Rhine by his shoulders, lifting him back up and executing another Lafayette Lullaby, causing The New Life to crumple at Paxton’s feet.
Nick Stuart: This is awful! Paxton Ray is betraying the man who brought him to PRIME! The man who helped pay for his daughter’s cancer treatments!
Richard Parker: I’m not saying he deserves…this, Nick, but you could make the argument that he was taking advantage of Paxton and his daughter. And maybe Paxton was sick of it.
Whatever the reason, Paxton Ray isn’t stopping. As the crowd continues to voice their displeasure, he yanks Rhine up to his feet and hits a third Lafayette Lullaby, and then a fourth after a few more seconds of manhandling Rhine’s body. By this point Rhine’s jaw is swollen, blood dripping on the mat. Finally, after not taking his eyes off of Rhine this whole time, Paxton Ray looks out at the audience.
Nick Stuart: This team was so successful. Not only were they the runners up to Survivor…they raised so much money for Nora. For Paxton’s little girl. Why, Paxton? Why?
His snarl slowly transforms into a grin. He looks down at Rhine again and kicks his arm. Suddenly, Jon Rhine moves. Slowly, he gets to his feet.
Nick Stuart: Four Lafayette Lullabies, and Jonathan Rhine is still moving! He won’t be stopped!
Richard Parker: I’m not so sure about that, friend.
Richard doesn’t sound cocky. He sounds solemn.
Paxton watches Rhine get to his feet with amusement. He patiently watches, waiting for him to reach his full upright position. As soon as he does, Ray is on him, lifting him up into the air.
Nick Stuart: ANOTHER LAFAYETTE LULLABY! That’s five! Jonathan Rhine is busted and broken right now!
The boos are losing their luster as Ray hefts Rhine up for a sixth shot. Not because they are no longer invested, but because their anger has given way to something else. Jonathan Rhine isn’t the only defeated one in the building.
As Ray lands the sixth punch, blood splatters from Rhine’s mouth, splashing Ray’s face with it. He wipes his hand across his face and stares at the blood, still grinning. Then, he flicks it on Rhine’s body.
Nick Stuart: There’s no one to save Rhine! No Shweta Kallemullah tonight. We know that Paxton asked her to stay with Nora because she was so nervous about this match…oh. Oh. Richard…you don’t think…
Richard Parker: Yes, I do. I think this was planned. I always thought Paxton was rough around the edges, but this…this is diabolical.
While the two talk, Ray has landed a 7th punch. Paxton looks to the ramp, waiting for security. He sees none, and he smiles as he turns back to Rhine. It is a grizzly smile, one that elicits a small gasp from Nick Stuart. Finally, Paxton Ray leans against the ropes and begins to leave, causing the fans to wake up and rain a cascade of boos. A team of medical staff sprint towards the ring.
Nick Stuart: What a disgusting display! Paxton Ray has turned on his own partner. And you have to wonder what…what?
Nick stopped because Paxton did as well, hanging midway between the ropes. He pulls himself back into the ring. The members of the staff are crouched by Rhine, but when they see him coming, a few dash out of the way. One particularly brave EMS tech stands in front of Ray, shaking his head and pleading for him to stop.
Think it’ll work?
Nick Stuart: No, Paxton!
Paxton grabs the EMS tech and in one motion lifts him and tosses him out of the way. He walks up to Rhine, touching him with his boot. Rhine, of course, doesn’t move. Nodding, Paxton picks him up again.
Nick Stuart: No! Come on, Paxton! Stop! He’s had enough!
Richard Parker: You’ve made your point, Pax. Just let the medical staff do their job.
Paxton whispers something in Rhine’s ear. Rhine’s eyes are closed, not registering anything. Paxton then lifts Rhine up and holds him up. It feels like ages that Rhine hangs there, upside down, his legs limply hanging.
Finally, Paxton comes down with a brainbuster. Right on Jonathan Rhine’s head.
At this point the boos had subsided to a low murmur, so the sound that occurs can be heard by everyone in the arena. It is a sickening crunch sound, and Rhine’s limbs flail for a split second, then go still.
Paxton rolls to his knees and looks down at Jonathan Rhine. His partner. His friend. His mentor in the wrestling business.
And he leans back and laughs.
Nick Stuart: This is…
He doesn’t finish his sentence. He doesn’t need to.
Paxton closes his eyes, wiping sweat off of his face. He kneels there, eyes closed, relishing the moment. It’s as if he knows that someone will be out soon to save Jonathan Rhine.
Well, that may be the wrong word. He probably can’t be saved now.
All the same, the fans finally have an excuse to cheer as King Blueberry dashes out. He has a jacket that he is trying to take off, and his tattered mask is slightly akimbo as he sprints down towards the ring.
Nick Stuart: King Blueberry is here to stop the madness! He’s coming to protect his friend!
Richard Parker: He’s going into the lion’s den.
If that is true, then the lion is preparing his exit. When he hears the cheer, Paxton opens his eyes and stares at the ramp, then without urgency rolls to the outside of the far ring. Blueberry stares at him for only a moment before checking on Rhine. He puts a hand on his chest, then wildly beckons for the medical staff to once again check out the fallen New Life.
Paxton Ray has found his way to the ramp and now walks backward, his eyes on the ring. A small smile emerges as he reaches the top, then waits for King Blueberry to look his way again before mouthing two words.
Then, the Lafayette Bruiser leaves. The camera focuses on the medical staff, which has moved Jonathan Rhine onto a stretcher. The arena is deathly silent as they watch for any sign of life, maybe a thumbs up or a small wave.
But there is none. The only movement is the gentle rocking of his body as the stretcher is wheeled up the ramp. King Blueberry quickens his pace to walk next to the stretcher, not taking his eyes off of his motionless friend, even as he bumps into an EMT trying to help push the stretcher.
Nick Stuart: Ladies and gentlemen, I…I don’t know what to say. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jonathan Rhine after the devastating attack from his own tag team partner.
Richard Parker: I don’t really care for Rhine, but…please get better soon, New Life.
COMMERCIAL: SHOOT PROJECT
VISIT SHOOTPROJECT.COM FOR MORE LAS VEGAS WRESTLING ACTION!
SWEET MEMES ARE MADE OF THESE
Backstage, Simon Tillier stands quietly, microphone in hand. It was tough witnessing what just happened in the ring between Paxton Ray and Jonathan Rhine, but Simon is a professional and he knows he has to press on.
Standing next to him are two individuals we all know so well. One is wearing a gaudy-as-hell green suit, the kind you might see worn by someone who’s trying too hard to be Irish. The other is wearing a big red singlet, the words “HUGE POWERBOMB” written above a nuclear explosion and the word “SIDCRAFT” written below it.
Simon Tillier: Ladies and gentlemen… the Winds of Change.
Joe Fontaine: Ooh, I like that. It’s dramatic. It’s got that… Daniel Craig introducing the Weeknd kind of vibe.
Sid Phillips: No one should have that vibe.
Joe Fontaine: But we do.
Simon Tillier’s beaming smile falters a bit. He’s dealt with a lot of crap since PRIME’s reopening. Most of it from a certain Man What Smokes Dopes. But he’s definitely got the look on his face of a man who might not know exactly what he’s interviewing.
Still, he’s a professional.
Simon Tillier: We’re just minutes away from your tag team title match against the Kings of Popsicles, King Blueberry and Reina Raspberry. There’s been a lot of… shenanigans between your two teams over the past few months, ever since your first night in the company at Culture Shock, when Joe Fontaine took a Canadian Destroyer from El Hijo del Super Cool Guy.
Rare sentences, thy name is Simon Tillier.
Joe smiles back at him.
Joe Fontaine: Simon, old buddy, old pal… that’s all in the past.
Sid Phillips: Just like that dank syphilis.
Joe Fontaine: Yeah!
Simon Tillier: Dank what now?
Joe Fontaine: Don’t worry about it. All our preparations are set. You have no idea the rigorous struggle we had to go through to get here. Not just the matches with the Nates, the Novas, the Garbage Bag Johnnys, the Bandits, and those cool dudes that did Dirtbags and Vagabonds.
Sid Phillips: Joe, for the love of god, please don’t start launching into any more diatribes about Solid Gold.
Joe Fontaine: Sure, whatever. My point is, the Kings of Popsicles… okay, I don’t know what the hell’s up with those berries. Any of them. Not a single one of them, and that includes the one that’s aligned with us. We don’t care about any kind of Berry Civil War. Not really. And sure, it’s all been fun and games up to this point. Swords, mannequins, sofas, popcorn, whatever. But here and now, the moment where it matters most… things are going to change.
Joe grabs the microphone that Simon is holding, and pulls it closer to his mouth. The camera focuses in on him.
Joe Fontaine: And I mean that in a windy way.
Sid palms his face to hide his cringe.
Sid Phillips: Good lord.
Joe Fontaine: I mean that every storm needs a warning. This is ours. Because like it or not, through rain and shine, through tears and joy, pain and sorrow, victory and even cooler victory… the Winds of Change are going to keep blowing through PRIME. And we’re blowing straight through those berries and putting our names on those belts, baby.
He stands there smiling. Confident.
And then a big, meaty paw fit for powerbombs reached from off-camera and pulled the microphone away. Simon’s eyebrows raise with alarm as Sid pulls him towards himself. Fortunately, Sid was saving all of the powerbombs for every berry.
Sid Phillips: Great. Fantastic. Hey, Simon. You know what people like to call us? You know how seriously people take the two of us?
Simon Tillier: Um… no. I don’t.
Sid Phillips: They call us a “meme team.”
Simon Tillier: A what, now?
Sid Phillips: That’s exactly my reaction. They think that because the all-solving powerbomb solves all problems that we’re just a meme. A joke. People laugh, right up until they’re flipped up, turned upside-down, and driven through the ground like a railroad spike. And you know what? They’re all free to think that. Because not every meme dies in an instant.
He pauses dramatically.
Sid Phillips: Some memes are… forever.
Simon Tillier: …I’m afraid to ask, but… what do you mean?
Sid Phillips: Look. In AD 2022, the Berry Civil War was beginning. And you know what’s going to happen? Someone… someone is going to set up us the powerbomb. And you’re going to get signal. You’re ALL get signal. So you’d better turn on your main screen, because you’re going to see me there. And I’m going to ask… How are you gentlemen? Because all your base… are belong to us.
Simon Tillier: …What?
Sid gestures at himself and Joe, while Simon’s eyebrows are raised in sheer alarm at what he’s witnessing.
Sid Phillips: You are all on the way to destruction.
He points at the camera.
Sid Phillips: Jared Blueberry? Calvin Raspberry? You have no chance to survive, make your time.
Sid stares seriously at the camera.
To his right, Simon stares dumbstruck at what just happened. Joe stands next to him, trying to hold back his laughter.
Sid Phillips: …Oh, and powerbombs. Damn. Sometimes, I don’t get to the point right away and have to say other, not-powerbomb things. Do you know how annoying that is?
Joe Fontaine: Please don’t only say powerbombs. We already have one guy on the roster that says one thing, we don’t need two.
Sid Phillips: Meh.
Simon has the look of a man who feels like he’s only a spectator in this nonsense. So he swallows and puts the microphone back to his face.
Simon Tillier: Be that as it may, uh… I can’t help but notice that Baron von Blackberry isn’t here.
Joe Fontaine: Yeah, well. He’s not coming. We got someone else.
Simon Tillier: Who?
Joe Fontaine: Well…
As he’s about to say a name, a man walks into frame. Conveniently, only his body – adorned with a patchwork fur cloak – can be seen on frame. He doesn’t say anything. He walks past, and all eyes are drawn to him. Once he leaves, Joe and Sid exchange glances.
Joe Fontaine: …We gotta go.
Sid Phillips: Yeah. Getting close to that time.
Joe Fontaine: Say hi to Rez for us!
Joe winks at Simon, and then he and Sid leave in the same direction that the man in the patchwork cloak went. Simon stands there for a moment, in sheer disbelief.
Simon Tillier: (muttering) I’d really rather not.
And now, back to the ring for some violence.
INTENSE TITLE: THE ANGLO LUCHADOR (C) vs. BALAAM THE MASK OF MALICE
Vince Howard: The following contest is a lucha de apuestas match scheduled for one fall, and is for the Intense Championship!
Vince Howard: This is a mask versus mask match, meaning the loser must remove their mask!
Nick Stuart: For fans who aren’t familiar with the concept, lucha de apuestas means that both men involved in this match have made a wager based on the outcome. The wager for this match is that both masks are on the line, and the loser must surrender theirs to the winner.
Richard Parker: We literally listened to Vince Howard say half of that just now.
Vince Howard: In addition, I have been informed that this is a no-disqualification match!
Nick Stuart: An interesting wrinkle for sure, but one that makes sense given the circumstances. These two camps have been sniping at each other all year. They’ve met once before at Culture Shock, but that match ended via countout.
Richard Parker: And there’s not a clock on the planet that will save the Anglo Luchador tonight, Nick. Praise Hoyt!
Vince Howard: Introducing first, from Prospect Heights, Illinois and weighing in tonight at 345 pounds…
“Possum Kingdom” by The Toadies hits the arena speakers, and the fans in attendance immediately clear a path. They know what this song means, and before long the massive Balaam appears in the crowd.
Richard Parker: Clear a path, ye unworthy!
Vince Howard: The Mask of Malice… BAAAALLLLLLLAAAAAAAAAMM!!!
Controlled by a chain attached to his nose, Hoyt Williams’ personal behemoth is led to the ring by the Harbinger of Malice. In the ring Joe Burro holds up “The Good Book” high for all to see, while Hoyt casually strolls to the timekeeper’s area and helps himself to a seat.
Vince Howard: And his opponent… Hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and weighing in tonight at 211 pounds…
The arena darkens, but instead of the normal sugar skulls, Santana, and smoke machines, the PRIMEview fades into a 16-bit display, stylized like a famous Konami series of video games about a vampire hunter. The title reads “HOYTSYLVANIA” with “press start” blinking underneath. A high-pitched sound effect plays, and the screen fades into mock gameplay as “Simon Belmont’s Theme” from Super Castlevania IV begins to play. The main character on the screen is a 16-bit Anglo Luchador, wielding a whip and taking out well-dressed zombies holding aloft replicas of “The Good Book.” The scene continues with the Retro Luchador encountering the stage’s boss, a massive rendering of Balaam in pixels. The hulking beast swings his arm and smashes into the pixelated Luchador, sending him crashing against the wall.
Richard Parker: Okay, game over, let’s get…
But the Luchador rises, leaps, and cracks the whip, landing on Balaam’s face, removing his mask. The final game shot on the PRIMEview shows the Anglo Luchador holding aloft the Mask of Malice as the screen fades to black.
Vince Howard: He is the reigning Intense Champion…
With “Simon Belmont’s Theme” still playing, the Intense Champion emerges from the back, dressed in a green-and-purple mock-up of Richter Belmont’s costume, championship belt affixed around his waist. His gait is plucked straight from the Castlevania series, only stopping to slap hands of various fans going nuts along the aisle. He looks upon the ring, with Balaam already inside, exhales, and hops up onto the apron, taking the belt and his sleeveless vest off before entering through the ropes. He hands them both to Elvis Nixon before stepping through the ropes.
Vince Howard: THEEEEE ANGLOOOOOOOO LUUUUUUUUUUUUCHADOOOORRR!!!
Nick Stuart: The bell has sounded, and this one is under w-OH!
A running body avalanche from the massive Balaam crushes the Anglo Luchador as soon as the bell rings, blasting the Son of the Shogun back into the corner.
Richard Parker: This is the kind of start to a match I like to see! Let the power of Hoyt flow through you, big man!
Balaam rears back and swings down with a clubbing blow, but only hits the turnbuckle as the Anglo Luchador manages to slide out of the way. A surprise enzuigiri connects with the back of Balaam’s head, which the Old Luchador immediately follows-up with a running hurricanrana to try and take the big man down.
Richard Parker: I take it back, I don’t like this at all!
Nick Stuart: An early flurry of offense from the Anglo Luchador as he looks to try and retain his title against his biggest…
Richard Parker: Woof to that pun.
Nick Stuart: …challenger to-date!
Seeing success with his initial barrage, the Anglo Luchador springboards to the second rope and attempts a second hurricanrana, but is caught by Balaam.
Richard Parker: Okay, I take that back, and…
Nick Stuart: We get it, Richard. We all get it.
A thundering buckle bomb rocks the Anglo Luchador. He staggers out of the corner, but Balaam has already hit the opposite ropes and built up a head of steam.
Nick Stuart: A massive spear by the Mask of Malice almost cuts the Intense champion right in half!!
Richard Parker: This is the best day. Just the literal best.
A massive paw grabs the Old Luchador by the throat, and then a second hand tightens the grip. The Anglo Luchador is lifted from his feet and held aloft in the air, as the weight of his own body and the tightening grip of Balaam threaten to choke the life from his body. And unlike the last time these two met, there is no protective layer of IcyHot (or its edible counterpart WarmCold) to help the Son of the Shogun escape.
Richard Parker: The power of Hoyt is breathtaking, isn’t it, Nick? Get it?
Nick Stuart: That is the worst pun. Just the absolute worst.
Richard Parker: The spirit of Hoyt can breathe life into a man’s lungs, and the hands of Balaam can squeeze it right back out.
Referee Elvis Nixon checks on both competitors, and offers a warning to Balaam, but it’s summarily ignored.
Richard Parker: Nothing you can do to stop it, Elvis.
Nick Stuart: Just because the rules are relaxed tonight doesn’t mean that our referee crew doesn’t have a responsibility to make sure that the wellbeing of every competitor is attended to. Especially after what happened to Jonathan Rhine in our last match.
Richard Parker: Jesus, Nick, way to bring it down.
The Anglo Luchador begins flailing his legs, though whether it’s to try and throw Balaam off balance or use a few wayward kicks to break up the hold is anyone’s guess. It is enough of a shift in momentum however that Balaam stumbles towards the ropes, like a foal taking its first ginger steps onto the ice.
Nick Stuart: Whatever the Anglo Luchador is doing seems to be working.
Richard Parker: From where I sit, it looks like what he’s doing is “throwing a big boy tantrum.”
The Luchador gets a foot on the top rope, then another, and the footing is able to help relieve some of the pressure on his neck. He clasps his hands together, bringing them down in an axehandle smash across first Balaam’s left arm, and then his right, before grabbing his wrist and leaping into the air for a flying arm drag.
Because of Balaam’s size, he doesn’t rotate over, and instead stumbles towards the far side of the ring like a drunken child. Not that you should get your kids wasted or anything like that, but if you did this is probably what it would look like.
He steadies himself against the ropes just in time to be blasted by a Cactus clothesline from the Anglo Luchador that takes both men over the top rope and to the arena floor.
Nick Stuart: The Intense champion throwing everything he’s got at his challenger tonight. And he’ll need to keep up the pressure if he intends to keep both his title and his mask.
Richard Parker: Not a chance, Nick. When you’ve been baptized in the holy waters of Hoyt, anything and everything is possible, which is how I know Balaam is going to throw Angelo Lunchables into the sun before tonight is over.
Outside the ring, both men slowly get back to their feet.
Nick Stuart: Angelo… Lunchables? What?
Richard Parker: Maybe he can play poker with whatever god lives in the sun. Does a god live in the sun? Doesn’t matter, because they’re not as cool as Hoyt! I bet it’s a weirdo bird thing.
Recognizing that his opponent is still trying to regain his bearings from the tumble to the outside, the Old Luchador gets a running start and connects with a shotgun dropkick that sends Balaam reeling back into the ring steps.
Richard Parker: That’s illegal!
Nick Stuart: I’m pretty sure it isn’t. We were alerted at the start of this match that it was being contested under relaxed rules.
Richard Parker: I meant in the state of Utah.
Nick Stuart: Which we’re not in.
Richard Parker: …shit.
The Anglo Luchador presses his advantage, mounting the monster and landing a series of hard rights. At least until a massive left hand catches a punch, and a right from Balaam shoves the Luchador back. Not to be denied, Anglo is right back in the fray, but this time Balaam is able to get a finger into one of the eye holes on the Luchador’s mask, threatening to tear it free.
Nick Stuart: Balaam trying to rip the mask from the Anglo Luchador’s head before the end of the match!
Richard Parker: I hope he has a bag or something to replace it with. Got a gut feeling that guy ain’t pretty.
Nick Stuart: Richard, we’ve been working with some of these guys for almost a year. Are you trying to tell me you’ve never seen anybody without a mask backstage?
Richard Parker: I don’t believe in fraternizing.
With both men on their feet, the Old Luchador delivers a series of leg kicks that target Balaam’s bad knee – the one that healed itself the moment John Kennedy Royko, Jr. put on the Mask of Malice and transformed. A clubbing blow from the monster sends the Luchador back yet again. This time he charges in and dives at his adversary, but is caught mid-air by Balaam.
The fans in the first row are forced to scatter in a hurry as Balaam charges to the guardrail and heaves the Anglo Luchador over it, into the first row of seats. Folding chairs clatter to the ground around him as he lands on the concrete floor. At the timekeeper’s table, Hoyt Williams’ smile is unmistakable.
Nick Stuart: Absolute chaos as this sprawls into the crowd!
Richard Parker: No, it’s okay. I have it on good authority that everything is fine as long as these fans all signed a waiver.
A camera operator is grabbed by the shirt before he can move out of harm’s way, and finds himself sailing through the air. He crashes into the now-standing form of the Anglo Luchador, sending both men careening deeper into the crowd.
Richard Parker: Not sure if it covers “murdered by a flying union employee,” though.
At least everyone still has their face.
One eager fan tries to start a “PRIME that shit” chant, until he is hit by a tranquilizer dart and hauled off by security to spend some time in the Nevada Ditch Fields to think about what he’s done. Not really, but it would be nice if that happened.
All Elvis Nixon can do is watch helplessly.
Nick Stuart: Balaam now stalking his way to the guardrail. This could get ugly real quick.
Richard Parker: Yeah, by taking Anglo’s mask off. We covered this. Jesus Hoyt Christ, don’t you pay attention?
That’s the sound a chair makes as it goes sailing through the air towards Balaam, who swats it aside with ease, sending a different group of fans scattering.
Another is thrown. Then another. And another.
From his spot in the crowd, the Anglo Luchador has managed to pull himself back up and unload with the closest thing he can find, which in this case is All The Chairs. Unable to defend against all of them, one manages to slip through Balaam’s defense and clips the side of his head, tearing a gap in the Mask of Malice.
And then something crazy happens. Balaam’s bad knee, the one that doctors said should prevent him from ever wrestling, buckles.
Nick Stuart: Did I just see what I think I saw?
Richard Parker: If what you saw was Balaam stumble, then no. That was a hallucination.
Wide-eyed, Hoyt Williams rises from his seat by the timekeeper.
Richard Parker: Please, Hoyt, tell me it was a hallucination!
Nick Stuart: Could this be the opening that the Anglo Luchador needed? That one shot damaged Balaam’s mask, and for a moment whatever mystique it had seemed to falter.
Richard Parker: You shut your lying mouth, Nick.
Another chair is thrown at Balaam, who manages to catch it just as the Anglo Luchador sprints forward, leaps off of the guardrail, and attempts to connect with a missile dropkick into the chair.
Nick Stuart: The Anglo Luchador digging deep and pulling out one of the tricks that helped him outlast Balaam in their first enco-
That’s the sound a chair makes when it’s swung at high velocity into the airborne, defenseless form of the Anglo Luchador.
Richard Parker: Home run, baby! Go on and touch ‘em all!
Balaam casts the chair aside and grabs his fallen opponent before rolling him into the ring. The Mask of Malice goes from floor to ring in two terrifying steps. With the Anglo Luchador groggy on the canvas, Balaam makes his way to the corner where he grabs a turnbuckle pad with both hands and tears it clear from its mounting.
Richard Parker: I think Hoyt’s about to deliver us all a miracle, Nick. I prayed for this. Oh god, I prayed so hard!
Balaam hoists the Anglo Luchador onto his shoulder and sets his sights on the turnbuckle whose pad he’s torn off.
Nick Stuart: No, dammit. Balaam looking to drive the Anglo Luchador into that exposed steel.
Richard Parker: If it’s any consolation, we have Hoyt right here to read the man his last rites.
Nick Stuart: It’s not!
Balaam charges across the ring, looking to crush the Old Luchador with the full force of his ‘Crucified and Buried’, but at the last second there’s some fight. The Anglo Luchador slips down off of Balaam’s shoulders. The big man stumbles, and then a dropkick catches him square between the shoulder blades and sends the already-off-balance Balaam into the corner.
The Mask of Malice suffers its second bit of damage on the night, as a one inch gash appears from where it struck metal. There is an audible gasp among the gathered masses as Balaam drops to one knee, his strength failing.
Nick Stuart: The Anglo Luchador with a brilliant counter! He’s got the monster rocked!
Richard Parker: I hate it I hate it I hate it I hate it I hate it I hate it…
Balaam staggers back, then drops to one knee again as he tries to shake off the cobwebs. Behind him, the Anglo Luchador stands ready. His feet are planted shoulder-width apart. His shoulders roll to stay loose. What he’s planning next should end the match, assuming he’s strong enough to pull it off.
The crowd can sense it, and the rumble within the arena intensifies as Balaam steps back into the waiting arms of the Anglo Luchador.
Nick Stuart: Straightjacket hold applied, but now the question is can he hold on, and can he pick this monster up!
Richard Parker is silent, save for the mumbled prayers to Hoyt that the microphone picks up.
With a defiant roar and the strength of Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec god of war and victory, manages to power Balaam up into the electric chair position. And as Balaam rises, so does the MGM crowd.
He’s suffered through IcyHot jokes, the fallout from his taco-related exploits, and pending litigation over a product he endorsed. But in this moment, as his muscles strain to lift a man almost double his size, the Anglo Luchador is an ascendent avatar of the Aztec pantheon.
In this moment, he is the essence of what it means to be a tecnico.
Nick Stuart: ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!
Richard Parker: SAME BUT FOR ENTIRELY DIFFERENT REASONS!
The Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex connects with enough force that Elvis Nixon has to briefly grab one of the ring ropes to keep from falling over. He dives to the mat of his own volition, because now he’s got a job to do.
Richard Parker: Please kick out. Hoyt save us, PLEASE KICK OUT!
Richard Parker: Don’t make me switch religions MESSIAH is too weird!
DING DING DING
Nick Stuart: That’s it! He’s done it! The Anglo Luchador has retained his championship, and as a result we’re only moments away from Balaam having to relinquish his mask.
Richard Parker: I think I’m about to be sick.
The Monster, caught in the hazy in-between between Balaam and John Kennedy Royko, offers little resistance as the Anglo Luchador unfastens and removes the mask of malice from his head.
Nick Stuart: Justice is served, and The Anglo Luchador is still the Intense Champion.
Richard Parker: Boy is Royko ugly. Put that mask back on him.
The Anglo Luchador stands over the fallen Balaam holding both his mask and the Intense Championship as the crowd cheers wildly. Hoyt slides into the ring and starts berating the fallen Balaam.
Nick Stuart: Is this the end of Balaam and Hoyt Williams once and for all?
Richard Parker: RISE!!! RISE DAMN IT RISE UP!!!!
Balaam can’t stand as his knee is now once again a problem without the mask. Hoyt starts poking him with his titanium cane with the golden Sebs head hand grip.
Nick Stuart: JESUS, c’mon, won’t someone step in and stop this?
Hoyt is really laying into Balaam as The Anglo Luchador is unaware with his back turned to the action. Hoyt puts the cane to Royko’s neck.
Nick Stuart: Enough is enough.
Richard Parker: Put the dog down!
The Anglo Luchador turns around, spotting Hoyt, and the cane at the neck of Balaam. The Anglo Luchador trains his own eyes to stare dead into Hoyt’s eyes and holds the Mask of Malice up.
Hoyt Williams: HAND ME THAT MASK!
The Anglo Luchador doesn’t budge as Hoyt steps closer towards the Intense champion lifting his titanium steel cane, wound up and aimed for the Luchador’s skull.
Nick Stuart: Don’t do it, we’ve seen enough carnage already!!!
The “thud” is heard throughout the arena.
Richard Parker: What the hell?
Hoyt drops the cane and stands stunned for a second as blood starts to drip down his face. He collapses in total dead weight. The Anglo Luchador smiles still holding the mask and the title. The camera pans past the fallen bodies of Balaam and Hoyt revealing a strikingly beautiful yet awfully pregnant woman standing tall. She has a wooden bat in her hand which she drops completely stunned.
Nick Stuart: That’s John Kennedy Royko’s fiancée Aurora Jennings.
Richard Parker: That’s felonious assault, no, that’s actual assault. Get the cops out here.
Hoyt is not moving. Duke and Joe just watched stunned. The young lady mouths the word’s “thank you” to The Anglo Luchador who gives her an accepting nod. He tosses the mask towards her and rolls out of the ring with his title. She catches then drop the mask running over to check on JK Royko.
Nick Stuart: Reunited and it feels so good!
The much smaller woman he’s up the big man who is trying to stand on his knee. He pulls it off with pain in his eyes. He has an adrenaline rush and uses it to give Aurora a massive hug. The camera cuts to a lady crying in the audience.
Richard Parker: Clearly upset over the violent and unprovoked attack on Hoyt Williams.
Nick Stuart: Please.
John Kennedy Royko raises the hand of Aurora in victory as the crowd cheers him on. He gives her a big kiss before limping over and holding the ropes down for her exit. She gets about halfway out of the ring before turning back and looking at the mask laying in the middle of the ring.
Nick Stuart: Leave it be.
She turns around and walks over to the mask stepping over the fallen body of Hoyt Williams in the process. After a moment she gives a devilish look towards JK who shakes his head “no”. She reaches down and picks it up looking at it in wonderment. Suddenly the lights turn red, and the screen goes black with just the words “Mask of Malice: Chapter 2, Spring 2023”
Nick Stuart: I don’t know what’s going on but with the PRIME Intense Champion, the mask, or the future and, well, we are moments away from our Part One main event, the Berry Civil War!
THE LAST SINNER
It had been minutes since the ambulance whined its way into the desert air and the bay doors of the MGM Grand closed behind it.
You weren’t fast enough.
The man in the blueberry mask had stayed in the ring until help came, kneeling beside the unconscious form of Jonathan Rhine while the EMTs took great care in bracing his neck. He offered unheard words of comfort and encouragement as they carefully moved Rhine onto the spine board and secured him in place. He stayed close – as close as could be allowed – as the morbid procession made the journey back from the ring and through the curtain where the woman in the raspberry mask met him.
Justine, that was her name. They were partners in the ring, and more than that beyond its confines. How could he have forgotten?
You never have been.
They had followed the medical team to a waiting ambulance. The blueberry man – Jared, that’s what he was called – waited all the while for a sign from his friend that things would be okay. A wave, a word, anything.
And they have all suffered for it.
Jon never opened his eyes. The only sign that he was still alive was the rhythmic rise and fall of his chest.
The raspberry girl took the blueberry man by the hand and squeezed, but he didn’t feel it. He didn’t hear when she asked if he was okay. Didn’t hear the waver in her voice when she said she was afraid. The world around him ceased to exist. There was only the cold.
I wonder who’ll be next.
He blinked twice, and the world came rushing back into focus.
He’s backstage, still in the same bay where they loaded a still-unconscious Jon into the ambulance, and he has no idea how long he’s been standing there. The two other figures, Reina Raspberry and Mark – The “Blueberry Babysitter,” as he’s known among the MGM crew – are engaged in conversation.
Backstage Assistant Mark: I don’t think he’s listening. And not like the normal not listening, either.
Reina Raspberry: We’ve gotta snap him out of this. This is seriously f-
A conversation that is interrupted when the Blueberry takes two surprise steps forward and rests a hand on Mark’s shoulder.
King Blueberry: Do you have a car?
Reina Raspberry: Oh, thank god! Jared, you completely spaced out for a while. Mark was just saying that we’re up. We’re supposed to be on our way to the ring.
King Blueberry: Mark. Do you… have… a car?
Backstage Assistant Mark: Uhh, y-yeah.
King Blueberry: Then here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to find out what hospital they took Jon to, and you’re going to go there. I don’t know if anyone will tell you anything, but that’s not the point. You’re going to go, and you’re going to wait for me, okay? And if Wade, or Troy, or whoever is also there, then you’re going to do whatever they ask of you. You’re going to do anything they need, do you understand?
Mark’s eyes dart between the Blueberry and Raspberry, looking for answers; some sort of clarification.
Backstage Assistant Mark: I don’t know if I should-
King Blueberry: ANYTHING! THEY! NEED!
In the cavernous loading bay, the Blueberry’s voice rings out like a gunshot. All activity stops. Every eye now trained on the trio standing in the center of the room. The color bleeds from Mark’s face. His hands start to tremble. Later, when Mark’s friends tease that he probably wet himself a little, trust that it will be a lie when he says no.
After nine months of following him around, this is a side of King Blueberry that Mark has never seen.
With her eyes wide and mouth slightly agape, Reina Raspberry stares at her partner. This is new for her, too.
King Blueberry: (quietly) Shit, I’m… I’m sorry.
He pulls his hand away, then turns and begins the journey back towards the arena proper. He’s only traveled around twenty feet or so when he stops, and turns towards the wall. There, smiling down at him from his perch is the grinning visage of Brad Garrett. Before anyone can interject, the Blueberry’s hands have wrenched the frame free of its brackets. With a guttural roar the display is sending sailing through the air. It collides with a painted cinder block wall, bending the frame and littering the floor in the shattered remains of another fallen idol.
TAG TITLES: KINGS OF POPSICLES (C) vs. WINDS OF CHANGE
We cut from seeing King Blueberry and Reina Raspberry on the screen back to the ringside area where Richard and Nick are at (and not nearly as cute as Blueberry and Raspberry). Richard looks uncomfortable to say the least.
Richard Parker: Can I go to the bathroom now?
Nick Stuart: It’s not time for the intermission.
Richard Parker: We could make the intermission now though, right?
Nick Stuart: No, no we can’t.
Richard Parker: Why is that?
Nick Stuart: Because we have a match happening right now. A big match.
Richard Parker: But, I really have to go.
Nick Stuart: Hold it.
Richard Parker: No promises.
We then cut to the ring where Vince Howard is ready to introduce us to our next match. The final match before Intermission.
Vince Howard: The following match is one fall and is for the PRIME TAG TEAM TITLES!
Every light in the MGM Grand shuts off at once.
“I’m all dressed up with nowhere to go.”
It’s not the typical way that Oingo Boingo’s “Dead Man’s Party” usually goes. You know those movie trailers that come out and they have a super solemn version of some classic song? It’s kind of like that. Danny Elfman’s vocals have been isolated, and placed behind a different song.
“Walkin’ with a dead man over my shoulder.”
As those words are spoken, dark-clad individuals wearing hoodies emerge from the back. Six of them, in total. And, indeed, all six of them are carrying what appear to be bodies over their shoulders. Because of the darkness shrouding them, it’s difficult to tell what they’re really carrying. Each of the six eventually line up on either side of the entrance ramp, three on each side.
“I’m all dressed up with nowhere to go.”
The spotlights shining down on these six individuals paint no clear picture of who they are, but it’s clear about one thing – their silhouettes do not match those of the Jimmy Bonafide Dancers. Also, there’s six of them, and everyone knows there’s seven Bonafides.
“Walkin’ with a dead man over my shoulder.”
It’s also becoming clearer what song is playing behind the lyrics of “Dead Man’s Party”. It’s “Time”, from the Inception soundtrack. Thanks, Hans Zimmer! The music has started to swell, now.
“Waiting for an invitation to arrive.”
The PRIMEview comes alive, fading into a view of a large moon looking over a very large tree. You might recognize it as the same shot from the famous E.T. bicycle scene. Only, that ain’t a bicycle with a funny Reese’s Pieces alien in the basket coming in on the left side. That’s a man. That’s an American. That’s a LARGE American.
And he’s doing a powerbomb, flying across the screen and in front of the moon in silhouette to do it. The alien in his grasp flails with his tiny, glowing little fingers. Can’t phone home when you’re being powerbombed, motherfucker!
“Goin’ to a party where no one’s still alive.”
The LARGE American flies to the other side of the screen in a definitive arc. The kind of arc that’s going to land somewhere. The kind of arc that leaves someone lying in a crater in a fetal position, like so many Yamchas before them.
“Waiting for an invitation to arrive.”
The iconic E.T. scene shakes as though an earthquake just happened, and a cheap movie effects explosion fills the entire screen. Everything turns to darkness, and nothing can be seen, not even the individuals carrying the “bodies”.
“Goin’ to a party where no one’s still alive.”
The camera cuts to the bottom of the entrance ramp, looking up at the entrance. The six individuals carrying their “bodies”, or whatever they are, are still stand pat as a light shines from the entryway. Danny Elfman’s lyrics are gone. It’s just “Time”, now.
Smoke has filled the entryway, and through it, the silhouette of a single man stands like a sentinel. The only thing that can be gleaned from his silhouette is that he’s wearing a heavy cape, one that is patchwork. The right shoulder of the cape is bigger than the left shoulder, because that shoulder has the head of a lion on it. The left shoulder was jagged and spiky, covered in fang and claw. He’s carrying a long pole with a long, narrow flag at the end, like a battle standard.
And then, two more individuals step through the smoke.
One, the smaller man, is clearly Joe Fontaine in silhouette. The other, the much larger man, is clearly Sid Phillips.
The Winds of Change have arrived.
And “Dean Man’s Party” starts for real, right at the chorus.
The six people carrying the bodies move forth, walking down the aisle in two lines of three. Once the middle of the three make the turn towards the ring, the three men at the entrance make their way down to the aisle.
It’s when the spotlights meet the trio that everything becomes clear.
Joe Fontaine is wearing new gear. Instead of the poncho that he and Sid had been rocking since ReVival 10, Joe has chosen to wear a tearaway suit. A bedazzled, red one. Around his neck, however, is a curious and very cursed necklace. You know how Dhalsim wears three skulls around his neck in Street Fighter? Well, imagine that, except it’s mannequin heads. Three of them. As a necklace.
Our boy has some real fucked up ideas about how to get over a phobia.
Sid’s mostly the same as he usually is, just sans poncho. His singlet, however, is also red for tonight. An image of a caricature of Sid powerbombing Cthulhu is printed in the exact center of the singlet. The words “HUGE POWERBOMB” are written above the eldritch powerbomb, and the word “SIDCRAFT” is written below it.
But it’s the man at the center stepping forward that catches the attention.
Because that’s not Baron von Blackberry. It’s Coral Avalon.
And when some members of the crowd realize who it is, they start cheering. Not everyone does, of course, but the noise picks up steam as they make their way to the ring.
Now that it’s lighter in the entrance ramp, it’s also clear that the people that are carrying the bodies aren’t carrying bodies. They’re mannequins, dressed up in funeral suits. All but one of the people carrying these mannequin dead men are unrecognizable. The one that could be recognizable? That’s Franco Marchesi, Coral’s right-hand man and frequent tag team partner. It stands to reason that the others are people from the school.
Anyway, let’s check in with Vince Howard real quick.
Vince Howard: Introducing first! Accompanied to the ring by Coral Avalon… From Phoenix, Arizona! They come in tonight at a total combined weight of 480 pounds! JOE FONTAINE! SID PHILLIPS! THEY ARE… THE WINDS! OF! CHAAAAAAANGE!
The mention of the erstwhile “Kleptomaniac”, former PRIME tag team champion with the Codemaster, and current-day “Crownless King” gets a sizable reaction from the Vegas crowd. Joe and Sid enter the ring, with Sid rolling under the ropes and Joe hopping over the top ropes. Meanwhile, Avalon walks around to the hard camera side, and waves the standard in his hands.
The standard has five symbols on it. The first, the one nearest and dearest to his heart. The skull with the broken crown. The symbol of the Crownless Kingdom. And then the next four… a blueberry, a blackberry, a raspberry, and a strawberry.
Tonight, there would be a Berry Civil War.
Even if Baron von Blackberry happened to decide to stay at his vacation home in the scenic, yet diabolical nation of Fruitsylvania on this night, there will be a war.
Nick Stuart: Something feels entirely different here tonight, and I’m not just talking about that man in the patchwork cloak.
Richard Parker: That guy looks familiar, Nick.
Nick Stuart: That’s Coral Avalon. He was a PRIME Tag Team Champion with the Codemaster some fifteen years ago.
Richard Parker: …I’m sure I’d remember someone with a name as dumb as that. I remember Codemaster, though. Weird.
The camera cuts to a section of the front row, next to the timekeeper’s table. Seated there are several faces not quite familiar to PRIME audiences. Two of them are Joey Malone and his wife Keri, Joe Fontaine’s parents. Three others are an assortment of four teenaged girls. Three of them are Joe’s younger sisters. The fourth is Sid’s younger sister. And sitting next to her, wearing his sunglasses indoors like an asshole, is Daniel Phillips. Sid’s father, and once the self-proclaimed “King of the Cruiserweights”. Sitting next to Daniel is Annabelle Avalon, Coral’s wife.
Nick Stuart: Lot of family here in attendance for the Winds of Change.
Richard Parker: You know, bringing all these people to cheer for you when there’s a good chance you’re gonna let them all down is a choice. Not the choice I’d make, but… it’s a choice.
Nick Stuart: You are seriously insufferable.
Richard Parker: Well, you should have let me use the restroom when I wanted to.
The PRIMEview flickers to life, showing what looks to be a pool of cartoon water. Moving in from the top of the screen is a black package that tears itself open and sprinkles its contents into the liquid. What does the package say? Two words.
The water on the screen begins to percolate, before boiling over and filling the PRIMEview with steam. Also full of steam is the top of the ringside entrance, because all thirty smoke machines fire up at the same time.
Nick Stuart: I thought we’d be past the smoke machine gag by now, Richard.
Richard Parker: Seriously? Have you met some of the idiots we have in the back?
Yes. There are thirty smoke machines. Around here we believe in escalation without fear of repercussions or reprisal.
Six figures appear in the smoke. Eagle-eyed viewers will recognize them immediately as Charlene, Misty, Noelle, Carl, Janelle, and Cinnamon of Jimmy Bonafide Dancer fame. They are all dressed as ninjas, save for Carl, whose outfit is so tight that it is best described as a “spandex disaster fiesta”.
Where is the seventh (and most arthritic) member of the JBDs, that fossil of dilapidated masculinity known as Biff? He’s the one currently wheeling out an oversized frame with an equally oversized circle attached to it. It’s a Plot Hole. How do we know? Because it, like everything else in this bonkers-ass entrance, is clearly labeled.
Just hope there’s not a convertible full of pudding. Or rather, another convertible full of pudding, because we already used that gag during Survivor.
With the Plot Hole firmly now in position, the music starts.
Motley Crue. “Knock ‘Em Dead Kid.”
Oh, were you expecting “Sabotage?” Sorry. Couldn’t license it in time.
Hey, Vince Howard, let the people know.
Vince Howard: Making their way to the ring from Boston, Massachusetts and weighing in tonight at a total combined weight of two-hundred and one pounds plus “try to make me ask her this again, Vince, and I’m giving her your home address”…
Onto the stage step the PRIME Tag Team champions. In the ring, Vince Howard gives some serious consideration to a career change.
Vince Howard: And a total combined height of three-hundred and forty-five centimeters…
While the entrance may be full of frivolity and nonsense, the two people dressed as wrestling berries don’t look ready to share in the mirth. King Blueberry marches to the ring with purpose. Some will comment on the gear that he’s chosen for this event, and how the flame patterns added to his usual garb are part of the larger homage planned for the night. Others will note that the Trenton Locksmiths are not a real baseball team, and wonder how he found a jersey for a club that doesn’t exist.
All will read the solemn expression on his face and know his mind is very much elsewhere. Jonathan Rhine was taken from the building via ambulance, his future uncertain. That this weighs on King Blueberry is obvious.
He strides to the ring like a man with a purpose, and that is to get this over with as fast as goddamn possible. The jersey is off before he hits the bottom of the ramp, and the belt that he carries – one with a foil strawberry sticker over one of the side plates – is tossed into the ring before Vince can finish the instroductions.
For the Raspberry, tonight will leave an indelible mark on her memory. It is her second supershow on the biggest stage of them all. It marks her second defense as a world champion. And despite years close to the business, it is the first time that she’s seen a friend injured. She keeps pace with her partner, and while the expression on his face is tinted with an air of hostility, hers is stoic.
Vince Howard: King Blueberry! Reina Raspberry! They are the PRIME Tag Team champions of the world… They are… The KIIIIIIIINGS OFFFFFF POPSICLES!
Richard Parker: Looks like Blueberry also needs to use the restroom in a hurry.
Nick Stuart: I don’t think his purposeful walk has anything to do with using the restroom.
Richard Parker: How do you know?!
Nick Stuart: Because he seems more pissed off than… constipated, which is the look you’re giving me right now. He’s probably thinking about Jonathan Rhine, who was carted out of here earlier.
Richard Parker: Oh yeah, that.
Nick Stuart: I hope you crap yourself.
Blueberry and Raspberry hand over their titles, Blueberry showing no emotion as he does so. Nixton raises the titles up for both teams and the audience to see before he hands them over to the time keeper.
Elvis Nixon gives his final set of instructions to both teams before he signals for the start of the match.
Joe Fontaine starts for Winds of Change while King Blueberry starts for Kings of Popsicles. The two men circle each other in the ring, Blueberry’s face stoic while Fontaine looks around at the ground in the MGM-Grand Arena and then returns to focusing upon Blueberry. They enter a collar-and-elbow tie-up with King Blueberry immediately connecting with an arm drag. KBB holds onto Fontaine’s wrist as he is in a seated position, twists slightly, and drives his knee in between his shoulder blades. Joe winces in pain as he fights his way back up to his feet, reverses it so he is wrenching KBB’s arm and connects with a side kick across KBB’s chest.
Nick Stuart: Joe Fontaine wrestling in the biggest match of his career against one of the toughest opponents he could ever be in the ring with. This is going to be a test for him all the way through, but he is managing his own to start here.
Richard Parker: To start? The bell literally just rang. We are twenty-two seconds in. What are you talking about, Nick?!
Still holding onto KBB’s wrist, Fontaine begins dragging KBB to his corner, but Blueberry digs in his heels, yanks Fontaine back into him, and connects with a back body drop. Fontaine pops back up to his feet and is met with a knife-edge chop from KBB. Fontaine groans in pain as KBB slams his knee into Fontaine’s midsection, and connects with a neckbreaker across his knee, causing Joe to grab his neck in pain. KBB drags Fontaine over to his corner, and tags in Reina. She immediately slingshots herself over the top rope and connects with a leg drop across his throat.
Richard Parker: That Reina Raspberry, she’s something else.
Nick Stuart: She has been amazing in the ring since she joined with King Blueberry to win the Tag Team titles. Truly a team forged in fire and able to make the most of their opportunities.
Richard Parker: Yeah, yeah, all that and a bag of chips.
Fontaine sits up, grabbbing his throat, and is met with Raspberry who bounces off the ropes and slams her knee into his face. She then reaches down and pulls him up off the mat, whips him into the ropes, and connects with a dropkick that sends Fontaine stumbling backwards and falls through the ropes and to the outside. Reina bounces off the ropes again and goes for a Tope Suicida on Fontaine, who simply side steps it and sends her flying into the ringside barricade. Fontaine drags Reina up to her feet and connects with a Saito Suplex before he rolls her back into the ring.
Nick Stuart: Quick thinking there from Fontaine to get out of the way of the Tope Suicida from Reina. Fontaine needing to gain some momentum and has been able to find a way to at least slow down the momentum from Reina.
Richard Parker: Seriously, what’s up with Coral?
Nick Stuart: What are you talking about? We discussed this already.
Richard Parker: He just looks familiar.
Nick Stuart: And we talked about it!
Fontaine enters the ring, drags Reina by the arm over to his corner, and tags in Sid Phillips. Phillips steps through the ropes and yanks Reina off of the mat as Fontaine steps through the ropes. Phillips looks at Reina, then over at King Blueberry, and then lifts Reina up for a powerbomb. Reina fires back with a series of fists to the crown of Sid’s skull, but Phillips powers through it and connects with the powerbomb. Sid then goes for the cover.
Nick Stuart: And Reina just gets her shoulder up in the nick of time! That could have been disastorous for Kings of Popsicles!
Richard Parker: This is the issue you have when you step into the ring with Sid Phillips. He is Powerbomb Siddy for a reason and he just showed it to you. He can’t do a lot in that ring, but if he powerbombs you, you’re going to feel it and then some. Reina needs to get out of the ring as fast as she can.
Sid looks down at Reina and then looks over at Blueberry who is staring down Phillips in the process. Sid makes his way back up to his feet, goes to lift Reina up, but she pulls him into a small package.
Richard Parker: Well, that would have been embarassing.
Nick Stuart: Reina not giving up quite yet!
Sid kicks out easily and gets back up to his feet, grabs Reina, and lifts her off the ground onto his shoulders. She then slips behind him, falling behind his back, and goes for a roll-up once again, but Sid reaches down and yanks her back up to his shoulders only for Reina to use her momentum to connect with a Hurricanrana on Phillips! Reina slowly makes her way up to her feet as Sid makes his way back up to his feet, rolls through him his legs, and tags KBB back into the match. As she does, KBB leaps to the top rope, and connects with a missile dropkick that sends Phillips crashing to the mat.
Nick Stuart: Reina getting out of dodge there in a hurry and gets Blueberry back into the match who looks a bit… not here.
Richard Parker: Yeah, Blueberry has a big match in front of him still, and he can’t quite seem to stay focused in the moment.
Sid makes his way up to his feet and is met with a forearm strike from KBB. KBB fires off another one and then another one before whipping him into the ropes and connecting with a discus elbow that drops Phillips to one knee. KBB then bounces off the ropes and goes for a flying knee to Sid’s face, but Phillips blocks it, instead lifting KBB up into the air and slamming him back down with a powerbomb that shakes the ring. Phillips rolls off of KBB and stretches out to tag in Fontaine who climbs up to the top rope and connects with a 450 Splash before going for the cover.
Richard Parker: And Blueberry makes a simple mistake there, which almost cost him the match.
Nick Stuart: You can tell he’s feeling the effects of that powerbomb and 450 Splash. This is not a place where he wants to be at.
Richard Parker: He’s got to pull it in and fast.
Fontaine drags KBB up to his feet and connects with a knife-edge chop before pushing him into the ropes. Fontaine goes to whip KBB into the ropes, but KBB reverses it and sends Fontaine instead. He goes for a clothesline, but Fontaine ducks underneath it before he connects with a springboard moonsault on KBB! Fontaine rolls off of KBB, stands above him, and connects with a standing moonsault into a double knee drop across the chest of KBB!
Nick Stuart: And Fontaine is starting to pick up some momentum here.
Richard Parker: You know, his wrestling style seems… different and yet familiar all at the same time.
Nick Stuart: Now that you mention it, I think you’re correct.
KBB rolls onto his knees as he tries to get his bearings straight while Fontaine bounces off the ropes and connects with a dropkick to the ribs of his opponent. KBB rolls onto his back as Fontaine bounces off the ropes, steps over KBB, and springboards off the opposite middle rope into a double foot stomp across KBB’s midsection. KBB rolls to the outside, grabbing his midsection while Fontaine climbs the closest turnbuckle. KBB makes his way up to his feet and turns towards Fontaine only for Joe to connect with flying crossbody that sends both men crashing to the ground.
Richard Parker: Well, this is Joe Fontaine’s big opportunity and he is making the most of it. The knock against Winds of Change is that Sid Phillips is capable of one move and one move only — no matter how devastating a move it is — and that leaves Joe Fontaine to have to carry significant weight to cover up those weaknesses.
Nick Stuart: Correct and it is clear that Coral Avalon has done a bit of training with Joe to help him elevate his game for this match.
Fontaine is back up to his feet and grabs KBB as he does, smashing his head across the top of the barricade. KBB stumbles away from Fontaine who comes up behind him and whips him into the ringside barricade. KBB slams hard into the barricade, but then fires back with a clothesline that flips Fontaine inside out. KBB drops to one knee, taking a moment to gather himself, before he rolls Fontaine back into the ring. As he does, he looks over and sees Coral Avalon standing at the corner, locking eyes with him and finally understanding why he received the apology at ReVival 15 before he re-enters the ring.
Nick Stuart: Something about the way that Blueberry looked at Avalon there–
Richard Parker: You caught it too?
Nick Stuart: Yeah, like an acknowledgement.
Richard Parker: Oh, I thought it was romantic. Nevermind then.
He watches as Fontaine climbs back up to his feet and KBB catches him with a stiff forearm shot before grabbing the back of his skull and bashing it into a nearby turnbuckle. He then spins Fontaine around and connects with a palm strike across Fontaine’s chest before connecting with a stiff kick to the midsection. KBB then connects with another palm strike before connecting with a second stiff kick to the midsection. KBB then connects with a hip toss out of the corner and with Fontaine in a seated position, KBB connects with a dropkick to the back of Joe’s skull and back.
Richard Parker: And here is King Blueberry getting some action in.
Nick Stuart: Blueberry seems a bit more focused now, a bit more present. Kings of Popsicles still have a long way to go to retaining their titles, but they’re making the right steps to get there.
KBB drags Fontaine off of the mat and whips him into the corner, hard. Fontaine leans in the corner, dazed, as KBB moves to the opposite corner, and runs full speed at Fontaine, looking for step up enziguiri, but Fontaine drops to a seated position and KBB lands on his knees. Blueberry gets back up to his feet as Fontaine gets back up to his feet and connects with a running bulldog on Blueberry. Fontaine fights back up to his feet, bounces off the ropes and connects with a running Shooting Star Press to KBB’s back. Fontaine then rolls over and tags in Phillips.
Nick Stuart: And a costly mistake there from Blueberry, who doesn’t usually make too many mistakes in his matches, but that one may have opened the door for some serious punishment for him.
Richard Parker: Yeah, I don’t like the look in Sid’s eyes. They scream–
Nick Stuart: Pain?
Richard Parker: I was going to say sexy time.
Nick Stuart: Your reading of things is way off tonight.
Phillips steps into the ring and drags Blueberry off of the mat, slams his knee into KBB’s midsection, and powerbombs him in the center of the ring. Phillips then goes for the cover.
Nick Stuart: Close call there!
Richard Parker: Exactly and I don’t know how much more of that King Blueberry can take of that.
Phillips looks at KBB, who managed to kick out of the powerbomb. Sid reaches down, grabs KBB by the mask, tearing it a slight bit in the process, before yanking him up off the mat again and powerbombs for a second time. Phillips kneels like he’s going for a pin, but decides to yank KBB off of the mat once again and connects with a third powerbomb before going for the cover.
Richard Parker: HOW?!
Nick Stuart: That looked like it would be OVER, but King Blueberry has found something deep inside of him to keep fighting.
Phillips looks at KBB in shock and disbelief as the broken and battered man looks out of it. Reina claps her hands, trying to get KBB into the mix of things, but Sid gets back up and drags KBB up with him once again. He lifts KBB into the air and holds him up there, walks around the ring before hoisitng him over his head. KBB uses the momentum to leap off of Sid’s shoulders onto the top rope and then springs backwards into a cutter as Sid turns around!
Nick Stuart: What a counter from King Blueberry there! Where did that come from?!
Richard Parker: I’ve seen King Blueberry do a lot of things, none of which actually involves blueberries, but that was rather impressive and the very thing they needed in that moment.
KBB crawls and manages to tag in Reina as Sid is able to tag in Fontaine. Reina connects with a slingblade on Fontaine, but both rush back up to their feet and Reina narrowly dodges a superkick from Fontaine, stepping around him and slamming her forearm into the back of his neck before spinning him around and connecting with a Fisherman Buster. Reina gets back up to her feet and narrowly ducks underneath a clothesline from Sid Phillips, bounces off the ropes, and connects with a running dropkick to the left knee of Phillips. With him down on one knee, Reina bounces off the ropes again and connects with a step up enziguri.
Richard Parker: Well, damn.
Nick Stuart: What a series of moves by Reina as she is lighting up both Joe and Sid here. You have to admire her moxie and determination even when facing the worst of it.
Richard Parker: She’s athletic as all get out.
As Reina gets up to her feet, Joe comes flying off the ropes with a springboard dropkick, sending her out of the ring. Fontaine then bounces off the ropes, looking for a move to the outside, but as he begins to leap over the top rope KBB connects with a superkick that drops Fontaine across the top rope and back into the ring. KBB looks like he’s ready to pounce on Fontaine when Reina grabs him and pulls him down, putting her forehead against his and whispers to him.
Nick Stuart: First, what a save by King Blueberry there and Fontaine didn’t see that kick coming at all.
Richard Parker: And now it looks liek Reina and Blueberry are having a chance to regroup, focus in on this match, that has seen everything ratchet up in intensity.
Nick Stuart: That was going to be my second piece. Reina slowing down Blueberry and we’re not sure what is being said, but definitely is trying to get him to hone in one what needs to be done in this match.
After a few moments, KBB nods his head and looks back into the ring where Phillips and Fontaine are making their way back up to their feet. Slowly, Blueberry and Reina enter the ring as Sid and Joe look across the ring at their opponents. Elvis Nixon stands in the middle and slowly backs away as Sid and Blueberry race at one another while Reina and Fontaine do the same, all four trading forearm shots with one another.
Nick Stuart: Well, these two teams are going at it and this is not the kind of match that Kings of Popsicles really want, especially with Sid Phillips on the other side of the ring.
Richard Parker: Now this is my kind of party!
Fontaine connects with a spinning heel kick that drops Reina to both knees while Fontaine spins and connects with an elbow across the jaw of King Blueberry.
And then everyone stopped moving.
Joe looked over at Sid, shocked that he did an actual move that wasn’t a powerbomb.
The crowd looked at one another, shocked that Sid did a move that wasn’t a powerbomb.
A replay is shown of Sid hitting the elbow on King Blueberry and it is not static. We actually see him connect with the move.
The only person not shocked is Coral Avalon, who has a smile on his face.
Nick Stuart: Shocked.
Richard Parker: Shocked.
Confirmed, everyone else is shocked.
Blueberry is down on one knee as Fontaine connects with a superkick to the jaw of Reina, sprawling her out in the middle of the ring. Sid then lifts KBB up and powerbomb him on top of Reina!
Richard Parker: Well, that’s not nice.
Nick Stuart: Not at all, as Joe Fontaine is now going for the pin and potentially winning the Tag Team Titles!
Nick Stuart: And Reina manages to kick out, forcing her shoulder off of the mat just in time to avoid Kings of Popsicles losing the tag team titles.
Richard Parker: I have no idea how Reina managed to kick out with Blueberry AND Fontaine on top of her, but she did!
Fontaine gets back up to his feet and drags Blueberry up with him, slams his fist into Blueberry’s jaw a few times.
Then he dabs.
Yes he dabs.
Richard Parker: What the hell is that?!
Nick Stuart: They call that a dab.
Richard Parker: I DON’T KNOW WHAT THAT IS!
Nick Stuart: It’s okay, Richard, you’re Dusk-old.
Fontaine then moonwalks in front of Blueberry.
Nick Stuart: What a SMOOTH CRIMINAL!
Richard Parker: I think I want everyone in this match to die now.
Nick Stuart: Spoil sport.
Fontaine then goes for a superkick, but KBB falls backwards, kips back up to his feet, and connects with a stiff boot to the midsection before connecting with a Sleeper Suplex. KBB begins to get back up to his feet and is mowed down by a clothesline from Sid Phillips. As Sid turns around, he’s met with a flying forearm to the face from Reina Raspberry that sends him crashing into the corner. Reina unloads with a series of powerful kicks to the midsection until she springboards off the middle rope and connects with a drop kick across the jaw. She gets up to her feet, helps KBB up to his feet, and whips him into Sid where he connects with a flying clothesline.
Nick Stuart: Great teamwork from Blueberry and Reina!
Richard Parker: I don’t know where Kings of Popsicles are pulling it out from, but they refuse to slow down.
Nick Stuart: This match could still go either way. Sid and Joe have done a phenomenal job of bringing the heat to the champions.
Blueberry turns around and is met with a Shining Wizard with an obnoxious mid-air dab from Joe Fontaine.
Nick Stuart: ONCE UPON A TIME IN FORTNITE!
Richard Parker: Fontaine going for the cover—
Nick Stuart: But King Blueberry is NOT the legal man in the ring!
Sure enough, Elvis Nixon is informing Fontaine of this as Joe looks on in surprise. He gets up to his feet, spins around to look for Reina, and is met with a stiff boot to the midsection and before he knows it, she has connected with the RUBY CUTTER!
Richard Parker: Oh man…
Nick Stuart: Fontaine never saw it coming! Reina Raspberry with the Ruby Cutter!
She then drags her arm across Fontaine’s chest.
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: Your winners… and STILL! PRIME TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS! REINA RASPBERRY! KING BLUEBERRY! KINGS! OF! POPSICLES!
Reina crawls over to King Blueberry, wrapping her arm around him and pulling him into her. Slowly, they are able to make their way to their feet as Elvis Nixon has gathered the Tag Team titles and is walking over to them.
As they get to their feet, they are handed the titles, but there looks to be very little celebrating in their faces.
Nick Stuart: A phenomenal match and another match where KoP manage to retain their titles, but still you can see the somberness in their eyes.
Slowly, Sid helps Joe up to his feet and they lock eyes with Reina and Blueberry. Blueberry extends his hand and Joe takes it while Reina shakes Sid’s hand for the hellacious match. Blueberry leans in and whispers something in Joe’s ear before Reina and Blueberry exit the ring and make their way up the ramp in a hurry.
Richard Parker: Crazy, crazy match.
Nick Stuart: Exactly and one that you would wish Blueberry and Reina were able to celebrate, but I’m positive they’re heading to the hospital to check on their close friend, Jonathan Rhine. With that folks, we’ve reached our intermission and we will be back with you shortly!
We then cut to… intermission music.
SITTING ON THE DOCK OF THE BAY
UltraViolence returns from intermission to find the camera trained on The Anglo Luchador sitting on the loading dock, bay door open in the sultry Vegas dusk. He has a bottle of Crystal Head Tequila in his right hand, a quarter killed so far, no mixer in sight. In his left, the Intense Championship. His body is smeared with dried blood and welts from his war earlier in the evening. His eyes are glassy, almost vacant. He takes a slug of the tequila from his third favorite Ghostbuster and turns his head to his left.
TAL: One evil vanquished, and yet I don’t feel good about anything at all. You know all about that though, don’t ya, Caes.
The camera pans over to reveal the Intense Champion’s companion, the Risen Star himself, Nova.
Nova: I get it, bud. At ReVolution 101, I poured lighter fluid all over a ringside table, lit that table on fire, drank beer with fans in celebration of that fire, then shot a Roman Candle at Vangelus Olsig who was charging me with a yard rake, and then powerbombed that fuck Olsig through the fire-table to win that belt.
Nova pauses and lights a cigarette.
Nova: The Intense Title is such… a unique conquest, man. It’s this absurd bar of violence not just sanctioned but endorsed by a company that would otherwise prohibit if not condemn our use of that kind of violence…
He takes a drag.
Nova: …and so in that way they’re using us, right? But at the same time, we pursue that level of violence when we have to, because it’s cathartic, because it makes sense of a senseless world or environment, because we don’t give a fuck anymore and just need to bleed, right?
The Risen Star grins, takes another drag, and shrugs.
Nova: …and in that way, we’re using it, aren’t we?
The luchador’s eyes grew wide as if he was stricken by a meteor in his brain. He takes an uncomfortably long swig out of the skull-shaped bottle before wiping his mouth.
TAL: I was talking about MESSIAH, but, goddamn if that ain’t the most… appropriate description of that title I have/had.
Tom presses his right thumb and forefinger into the bases of each of his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose.
TAL: You know the most screwed up thing about it is? I’m here, objectively a top guy in the company now, right?
TAL: …but I can’t stop thinking about her calling me an idiot. I’ve known Lindsay Troy for 20 years, almost. We’ve run in the same circles. I saw her hit her head on glass ceilings, deceive the world. She saw me fight wars inside the ring, inside my own head, inside boardrooms and locker rooms. She still thinks I’m a moron, but that’s not the worst part.
Nova: What is?
TAL: I think I might agree with her. I’m afraid that it’s all true, objectively.
Nova: I think…
He rubs his brow, takes another drag, and pauses for a minute.
Nova: …I think I don’t know that much about wrestling. I think I found this when I was a teenager trying to escape a dead-end road. I think I never really fit in, but I made my way in it, and I made something out of it. You…
He points a finger at the luchador.
Nova: …you are a student of the game. And with that relentless pursuit of knowledge and history comes the weight of self-imposed expectations in a way that others don’t have to deal with because the climb, the fight, it isn’t framed the way you frame it for yourself. And as for Troy…
Nova grins as his eyes grow wider.
Nova: Would I be sitting here if I thought I could speak for Lindsay Troy? All I’ll say about that is, you wanna know how Lindsay Troy feels about you, stand in a room with her. You don’t have to waste time on a forensic analysis with that one.
He reaches for the luchador’s bottle. The Anglo Luchador gives it a gentle nudge.
TAL: You’re still up later though, I gotta at least read you the riot act. (chuckles)
Nova grins, takes another drag, then snuffs his cigarette against the side of the dock.
Nova: One isn’t gonna hurt, Luch.
The luchador hands him the bottle and the Risen Star takes a swig, hands it back, and wipes his mouth.
Nova: What I was trying to say was, I’ll just hazard a guess that Troy doesn’t see you the way you see yourself through her eyes…if that makes sense?
TAL: …yeah. I guess. It’s not really about her though. It’s about you. It’s about me. It’s about… well, look at it this way. The guys who are stringing you around, right? Either they’re going to have the Universal Championship by the end of the night, or we have no Universal Champion because that eGG suckin’ dog ran off with it to Leecifer and MESSIAH fills the power vacuum.
He motions to Nova to slide the bottle back over. The Risen Star obliges, and the luchador takes a sip.
TAL: You got to the top of the mountain your own way. I know you can fight them if given a fair shot. I gotta be able to do it too. That’s what kills me every night. Looking in the eyes of madness and seeing in my rearview Atken. And Daniels. And Youngblood. And that other guy they fired. There’s no question that I need to get there so I can help save this place. There’s no question there’s a path forward.
He takes another uncomfortably long sip, nearly killing the skull of its agave-based brains.
TAL: The question is can I survive it without it ending everything?
Nova swings his legs around and stands up on the docking bay before crouching and putting a hand on the luchador’s shoulder.
Nova: You will. And I don’t think you have as many doubters as you think.
The Risen Star reaches for the bottle again, and the luchador, somewhat surprised, hands it back. Nova smiles as he takes a second (small) swig, leaving the last shot for his friend. He gestures with two fingers.
Nova: I meant two wouldn’t hurt.
Before turning to stand and go, Nova looks back into the luchador’s face, and for a moment, the Anglo Luchador sees tiny lights behind the Risen Star’s eyes that almost resemble bonfires on a distant hillside.
Nova: As for the Universal Title…Luch, I don’t care who holds it at the end of the night. They aren’t ultimately the person who is coming for me, and they aren’t the person who I’m ultimately coming for. My fight is different.
He pats the Anglo Luchador on the back and rises to his feet, backing away and lighting a cigarette. Before turning his back, he takes a drag and points back at the luchador.
Nova: But I may need you before all is said and done.
The Risen Star turns and walks away. The old luchador calls out to him.
TAL: You can count on me. And good luck tonight. I know from experience… you’ll need it.
Nova nods and walks off. Tom finishes the bottle, hops off the loading dock, and walks away from the MGM Grand Casino and Hotel with the Intense Championship around his waist.
MASTERS OF THE MULTIVERSE B-TEAM vs. DANGEROUS MIX
Nick Stuart: In case you didn’t realize from that ominous exchange between the Anglo Luchador and Nova down at the loading docks, Ultraviolence is back from intermission and ready to go!
Richard Parker: I can’t wait to see this tag match, Nick. Lots of bad blood and spilled coffee between them.
Nick Stuart: No lies detected there, Richard. The Masters of the Multiverse… B-Team and Dangerous Mix have been sniping back and forth with words and caffeinated beverages, and now, their rivalry will come to a head here with charity money on the line!
“Let Me Entertain You” by Robbie Williams hits the PA as Kenny Freeman and Randall Schwartz come out to a smattering of boos from the crowd. Freeman holds up the Food-O-Matic 3000 with Schwartz acting as the world’s hairiest Vanna White outstretching his arms to highlight their novel food processor.
Nick Stuart: Fans not that impressed with the Food-O-Matic 3000.
Richard Parker: Why not? I have three of them. I make all kinds of dishes with them. Just the other week, I made a nice pate when I was hosting my biweekly Friends of Hoyt dinner. Vangelus Olsig said it was to die for.
Nick Stuart: I find it hard to believe Olsig still associates with you after all these years.
Richard Parker: (sighs) You’re right. It wasn’t Olsig. It was Criss Angel. I was embarrassed.
The B-Team finally makes it to the ring as the lights dim and “Run Rabbit Junk” by Hideyuki Takahashi hits on the PA. First, the big man, Mushigihara, exits out from Argyle Position, soaking in the fans chanting “OSU! OSU!” for him. Then, David Fox leaps out from the curtain, somersaulting into a kneeling position in front of the big man, wingspan stretched out. The fans cheer Dangerous Mix as they first recreate the epic handshake between Carl Weathers and Arnold Schwarzenegger from Predator and strut to the ring.
Nick Stuart: The Mix looks fired up!
Richard Parker: I hope they’re not too cocky, because you and I both know, Nick, that their money is going to go towards buying GREAT SCOTT a new house.
Nick Stuart: Do you think the B-Team knows that Lee Best bought SCOTT a yellow bus that he converted into an all-inclusive living space on wheels?
Richard Parker: Riddle me this, would you tell a child the truth about Santa Claus?
Nick Stuart: Richard, Santa is real.
Richard Parker: Wait a s…
Nick Stuart: (swiftly interrupting) Santa Claus is real, and he’s my friend, Richard.
The Mix reach the ring. While the God-Beast’s stoicism is unflinching, Fox stares daggers alternatingly between Freeman and Schwartz.
Vince Howard: This match is scheduled for one fall! In the corner to my left, weighing in at a total combined weight of 336 pounds, The Entertainer, Randall Schwartz, Mr. Food-O-Matic 3000, Kenny Freeman. They are… MASTERS OF THE MULTIVERSE… B-Team!!!
The B-Team raise their arms as the crowd continues to boo them tepidly. A smattering of cheers rises up, presumably from the people who own and enjoy their Food-O-Matic 3000s.
Vince Howard: And in the corner to my right, weighing in at a total combined weight of 487 pounds, The Soul Survivor, David Fox, the God-Beast, Mushigihara… they are… DANGEROUS MIX! A cheer goes up for the quirked-up boys from New Orleans as Jimmy Turnbull calls for the bell. Fox and Schwartz meet in the middle of the ring. Schwartz extends his hand in what seems to be friendship, but Fox reacts by looking at him like he has three heads.
Richard Parker: Shake his hand! You guys don’t have to fight; you can all just go out for coffee afterwards.
Nick Stuart: To paraphrase The Anglo Luchador, this is PRIME Wrestling, not PRIME Coffee Social Time. Besides, I’m not sure David Fox should trust Randall Schwartz as far as he can throw him.
Schwartz insists on a handshake again, but Fox bats it away and instead starts laying into Schwartz’s chest with machine-gun chops. Schwartz holds his chest in exaggerated fashion and staggers away to his corner, where Freeman makes the tag. Fox drops back and tags in Mushi. Freeman takes no time to bounce off the ropes to try and take the big man off his feet, but he just stumbles back after bouncing off the Kaiju’s enormous frame.
Nick Stuart: Not sure what Kenny was thinking there. He’s giving up nearly a buck-forty to the God-Beast.
Richard Parker: Yeah, but he’s all muscle. Jacked, baby!
Nick Stuart: Are you and I looking at the same Kenny Freeman?
Mushi drop-steps back and tags in Fox again. The God-Beast grabs Freeman, while Fox bounds off the ropes. However, Schwartz clips him in the back with a well-placed punch, causing him to stumble. Freeman breaks free of his grip from Mushi by stomping him in the foot.
Nick Stuart: And now the antics begin from the B-Team.
Richard Parker: What you call antics, I call good teamwork.
Freeman moseys over and clubs Fox in the back of his head, tagging in The Entertainer, who is now holding the tag rope as if nothing ever happened. They whip Fox off the ropes while Jimmy Turnbull counts to five.
Nick Stuart: BIG double-team flapjack stun gun! Fox’s gonna find it harder to breathe after getting his neck dropped across that steel cable!
Schwartz makes the cover…
Fox kicks out with authority.
Schwartz picks Fox up to his feet, stares directly into Mushi’s eyes, and gives the Soul Survivor the back rake to end all back rakes. Enraged, the former sumo charges into the ring, but Turnbull stops him in his tracks.
Nick Stuart: I don’t think you want to provoke the big man like that.
Richard Parker: Yes, you do, because look!
Freeman pops into the ring while Turnbull has the God-Beast restrained, and the B-Team play virtual ping pong with their fists as the paddles and Fox’s head as the ball. As soon as the big man is calmed down and Turnbull turns back around, Schwartz signals to Freeman to get out of the ring. The Entertainer hits a spaghetti-legged Fox with a snapmare and goes for another cover…
No! Fox kicks out again. Schwartz complains to Turnbull as the Soul Survivor starts crawling back to his corner. The Entertainer notices and deftly grabs Fox by his ankle. Fox turns around onto his back and…
Nick Stuart: Big double-leg kick from his back to break free! I think it’s God-Beast time and…
Fox makes the tag as the crowd erupts for the God-Beast. Freeman blind-tags himself in as Schwartz crumples into the corner. Freeman charges over, but Mushi is ready for him with…
Richard Parker: …an armdrag? What in Hoyt’s name?!?!
Freeman pops up, but the Kaiju is ready with ANOTHER armdrag.
Nick Stuart: Freeman is on rollerskates! This is a new wrinkle from the God-Beast!
Freeman pops up one more time, but the next move shocks everyone in attendance. Mushi leaps up with a snap hurricanrana, sending K-Free FLYING.
Nick Stuart: UNBELIEVABLE AGILITY from the former rikishi! I heard he was training with The Anglo Luchador, but this is beyond words!
Richard Parker: Welp, I don’t need to see a pig fly anymore. I’ve seen a sumo wrestler do a rana.
Mushi stands up to soak in the crowd chanting “OSU! OSU! OSU!” at him. Freeman gets up in a daze and stumbles into Mushi’s waiting arms.
Nick Stuart: Snap scoop powerslam! Something a little more traditional from Mushigihara! And a cover…
Freeman ekes his shoulder from underneath the much larger wrestler’s hulking upper body. Mushi rises and tags in Fox. The Kaiju then whips Freeman off the ropes, right into a perfectly timed Tornado Fang from the Soul Survivor. Fox waits for Freeman to get up from the canvas.
Nick Stuart: Oh no, Fox is sizing him up.
Richard Parker: Duck, Kenny, duck!
Nick Stuart: FLASHBA…. NO! Kenny caught his leg at the last minute!
Freeman drops immediately to his knees, hyperextending Fox’s hamstring and cracking his kneecap. K-Free goes to pick up Fox, but Jersey native shoves him away with two short, swift elbows to the chest. He takes a second to collect himself before turning around to tag Mushigihara again.
Richard Parker: Typical, letting the big man do all the work for…
Nick Stuart: NO! Mushi just took a tumble off the apron! Randall Schwartz, that devil, he ran all the way around the ring to sweep the big man off the apron!
Turnbull is distracted by the fighting on the outside. The Entertainer takes his shots, but the God-Beast absorbs them and starts firing back. Even though he has about 120 pounds on him, he knocked his head on the apron and is a bit loopy, allowing Schwartz to hold his own.
Nick Stuart: Turnbull is distracted right now by the two men fighting on the outside, but Fox is sizing up Freeman. Freeman is begging off?
Richard Parker: Normally I would have a snappy comeback here, but I’m not sure why Freeman is playing scared here either. Fox’s knee is ripe for the picking!
Fox lines up to attempt another Flashbang, but a man taking advantage of the chaos on the outside clips his plant leg, sending him to the canvas.
Nick Stuart: Of all the rotten, Kenny Freeman was playing possum so…
The assailant stands up and shows his face off to the crowd for all to see.
Nick Stuart: …Kenny Freeman could make the save for him?
Richard Parker: I’m seeing double here! Four Kenny Freemans!
Both apparent versions of Freeman are putting the boots to Fox until a third man hops in the ring.
Richard Parker: Wait, is that Randall Schwartz? But he’s supposed to be brawling with Mushi…
Nick Stuart: I have no idea what’s going on here, Richard. This is pandemonium. Have the Masters of the Multiverse hired lookalikes here?
Richard Parker: Maybe, or maybe they actually did meet themselves from another universe? This is…
Nick Stuart: Disgusting?
Richard Parker: Brilliant! Brilliant that’s what it is!
With Turnbull outside the ring physically trying to separate Schwartz-Prime and Mushi, the elseworlds Schwartz and both versions of Kenny Freeman quickly attack, knowing the time is short. The Freemen toss Schwartz into the air after climbing on their hands, and they complete a version of The Colony’s Ant Hill Splash on the prone Fox. The otherworld Masters of the Multiverse dip out of the ring and roll under the skirt while Schwartz-Prime finally notices and backs off Mushi. The sumo notices Freeman has Fox prone and follows Turnbull to the ring, but a jab comes from under the ring, slamming right into Mushi’s shin. Schwartz follows up with a chop block.
Nick Stuart: Did those impostors or multiversal clones or whatever just hit Mushi from under the ring?
Richard Parker: I didn’t see anything.
For good measure, Freeman stands up, bounces off the ropes, and adding insult to injury, shimmies trendily before nailing Follow the Freeman. Turnbull counts the ensuing pin…
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: Here are your winners, the Masters of the Multiverse B-Team!
Nick Stuart: I have no idea what I just watched, but whatever it was had to have been one of the weirdest versions of highway robbery I’ve ever seen.
Richard Parker: It can’t be robbery. It’s charity! Haha, GREAT SCOTT will have money going towards a new home! Or at least a case of STRONKUMMS.
Nick Stuart: After that incident with the Armcold-way, I don’t think we should be shouting out questionable supplements on the show anymore, Richard.
Both sets of the Masters of the Multiverse… B-Team, strut away from the ring, with Schwartz-Two carrying the steel chair he ostensibly jammed into Mushi’s shin with one hand and pointing to his head with the other. Medics attend to both members of Dangerous Mix, who are slow to get up but seem mostly okay.
Suddenly, “Everybody Wants Some” by Van Halen hits and everyone in the ring looks towards the entrance confused. The crowd, also confused, stands on their feet and looks to the entrance, as well. Two large men walk out from the back. One is eating a hoagie and the other has a russet potato in his hand. The two big men look out into the crowd and try to pump them up.
Richard Parker: Who in the hell is this?!
Nick Stuart: I have no idea, but I did receive word that we signed a brand new tag team earlier this week! Maybe this is them!
The potato guy takes a big bite out of the raw potato and tosses the rest into the crowd. Hoagie man has a microphone in his hand and begins to raise it to his mouth, the music fading.
Hoagie Man: Oh yeah! Hello, PRIMEates! My name is Sterling Hayes but all my buddies call me ‘Meat’! And this here is my potato-loving friend Brian Chevis, who affectionately goes by ‘Tater’! French fries, mashed potatoes, tots, hash browns… any potato variety that exists this man is a connoisseur! And that is exactly why we are out here. Those guys out there have introduced a new food into the wrestling world and, from what we can deduce, it is inedible and gawd-awful!
Meat hands the microphone over to Tater.
Tater: Let me give you a little edu-cay-shun about Lunch Time!
Richard Parker: Lunch Time? What the blue hell kind of name is that?!
Nick Stuart: Sounds fun. I’m listening AND hungry.
Tater: The two of us were once great burger joint chefs in Sioux City, Iowa. Then we decided to start wrestling, which lasted a LITTLE while, and when we were dropped from our contracts in another company we decided to go back to cheffin! So we consider ourselves EXPERTS on the culinary arts! So that food right there? It’s CRAP!
He hands the microphone over to Meat.
Meat: So if any of you want to taste some real magic in your mouth, come on outside after the show to the ‘Lunch Time is All the Time’ food truck! We’ve got cheesesteaks, loaded potatoes, and more!
Tater takes the microphone.
Tater: And once we win all of you over with our magic, we are coming to rule the Tag Team division here in PRIME!
Meat leans over to the microphone.
Tater drops the microphone and “Everybody Wants Some” plays again as the two foodies make their way back to the locker room. People continue to look confused as we move on.
THE TACTILIZING VIGIL OF DUSK
Elsewhere backstage, we are in a darkened room. Suddenly, candles begin to light on either side of a red carpet, creating a pathway. As the candles light on either side, pair by pair, steps are illuminated leading upwards to a marble podium, not unlike what athletes step onto at an Olympic medal ceremony. The candles surround the podium step at the top, and we hear a voice speak up, unseen.
“In the past couple of months, we’ve seen a host of events pass that have changed the landscape of PRIME. Vicious attacks. Questionable transactions. Existential crisis. Survivors. Rivalries reignited from eras past, and fresh ones that have sparked anew in this era, and will require an extra mile to put the issue to rest.”
Stepping into the dim candlelight now, standing a pace behind the podium step, is a fit looking man, lean and wiry muscles showing underneath chain mail covering his torso, and black tights with a gold “T1” insignia on either hip. He has black boots with gold laces accenting, and golden blonde hair framing his solemn expression.
Larry Tact: What we will witness within the hour, however, is unique to all of those events. We’re on the precipice of a true act of mercy…the end of Dusk!
The PRIMEates can be heard expressing their displeasure as Larry flashes a shit eating grin that would even repel feces.
Larry Tact: I know I’m excited, and I’m sure the PRIME faithless are ready to cheer for their legend. They see me and him, and they feel the choice is as clear and easy as could be between us. They do so because they think, like Dusk himself, that I’m the one who’s put himself into a bad position. You all really believe that Dusk has nothing to lose, since he’s gone after this match, one way or another. It goes to show how short-sighted the Faithless are.
Larry pauses and points down to the podium step.
Larry Tact: You see this as the winner’s circle because you’ve been conditioned to. You see a bad motherfather like me, and your brains automatically feel revolted because I’ve done things to Dusk that he couldn’t stop, nor see coming. You dislike me out of nothing more than convenience… but you miss what I’ve been exemplifying all along.
A laugh comes from within his gutteral chambers that makes his shoulders reverberate.
Larry Tact: You all, just like Dusk, lack graciousness. You’re anything but humble. You’re selfish, as is your legend. While it’s true, you need to be selfish to succeed, this man has not done anything of note, by his own admission, to warrant your adoration and admiration. I’ve been criticized by Dusk for interrupting his final words to send himself off into a post-career that would be as forgettable as his career, and like all of you watching, he Misses. The. Point.
Larry scoffs and shakes his head with a disgusted look.
Larry Tact: I can encapsulate that selfish and crude attitude by the simple fact that these people would slurp up your words and allow you to do as your dull imagination pressed, no questions asked. Why? Well, it’s what the Faithless would do. But that’s not good enough for PRIME, Dusk. In fact, it’s a slap in the face of all this place has done for you. PRIME – no, WRESTLING – is all about big moments and making an impact. To go out with some vanilla words that literally any of these living festering boils in the stands could spout? What’s memorable about that?
Larry Tact: I did you a hugr favor, and in fact, one that NOBODY else in the back cared enough to do for you. I restored your fire, your spotlight, and tonight I’m giving you a chance to shine for one last time. Believe me, as someone who left for years, I can tell you that the phone may ring, but it won’t be with a deal juicy enough to convince you to come back if you really are set on retiring. The sole reason you’ll ever return is if you have the fire to do it yourself. I’m giving you an opportunity to let that fire course through your broken down body one last time. Unfortunately for you, I don’t intend for you to be physically capable of competing after I’m finished with you. When all is said and done, my future is the one people will be looking at. I’m the one who will extinguish your spotlight, and allow mine to shine brighter than ever.
Larry takes a couple steps back into the darkness, until we see neon blue bathe him in a halo of light, his arms crossed over his chain mail covered chest.
Larry Tact: I have every intention of making this Dusk’s Last Stand in every sense of the term. You won’t be standing, much less wanting to step foot in another arena, ever again. I’ve had this stipulation in mind for some time, which is why I embraced facing The Anglo Luchador for the Intense Championship. I wanted to feel everything of that dangerous environment, so I could be fully prepared to bury you in it tonight. Winning the title would have been a fine bonus, but as it turned out, Ms. Troy ensured we would not have to trifle with rules and regulations.
He steps forward again and takes a knee, running his hand over the marble step.
Larry Tact: Which makes this here, a candlelit vigil for you, Dusk. I’m paying my disrespects for the man who will soon be laying flat on the ground, unable to answer to his own name, much less a ten count. This is your career’s tombstone, Dusk.
He lifts the slab up into an upright position, and we see it reads:
HERE LIES DUSK (2022)
PRIME INTENSE CHAMPION (2x)
EXTINGUISHED BY LARRY TACT
Larry rises up and smirks, spreading his arms wide.
Larry Tact: You may wonder why I’m not wearing a face mask to shield my nose, Dusk, after The Anglo Luchador damaged me. It’s because I don’t fear your targeting, Dusk. If you think a broken nose is going to leave me down, you’re as dead wrong as your career is dead on arrival here. I’ve got far more in store for you, and it adds up to the star of Dusk being broken into unrecognizable shards. For one night, perhaps Dusk will be as good as he ever could be. I hope the PRIME Faithless soak that all in.
Because in the end, no matter how many scenarios you want to run, it still leads to your tactful surrender – in body, mind, and soul. Your time has come, Dusk.
Burn bright and die.
Larry walks off camera, and we see a golden ‘T1’ light up under the halo of blue light, overshadowing the ‘tombstone’ if Dusk.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG vs. TONY GAMBLE
Nick Stuart: And now we move on to a match with an interesting stipulation, Richard.
Richard Parker: Yes, Nick. If Mortimer Kjullienefries loses this match, he has to join the Gamble Adoration Syndicate. Rotten deal for him, because I joined for free!
Nick Stuart: Of course you did.
Richard Parker: And they gave me a little button of Tony’s face!
The camera goes to the ringside table, where Parker proudly displays a button on his lapel with Tony Gamble’s grinning face. There is a very small speaker where Tony’s mouth is, but let’s not worry about that right now.
“You think I’m funny… Funny how?”
Nick Stuart: Well here he is, Richard. Start adoring.
The unmistakable voice of Joe Pesci irritates the eardrums right before Metallica’s ‘Better Than You’ begins to blast through the PA System, the calling card of Tony ‘The Grin’ Gamble. He walks out at the same time the music kicks in, passing a quick arrogant glance toward the crowd before making his way toward the ring once the lyrics of the song kick in.
I look at you, then you me
Hungry and thirsty are we
Holding the lion’s share
Holding the key
Holding me back ’cause I’m striving to be
Footage from ReVolution 94 when Gamble locked The Illustrious Face Eater into his ‘Smile For Me’ submission and won the Internet Title plays.
Better than you
Better than you
Better than you
Better than you
Tony takes his time walking up the ring steps, staring into the ring for a few seconds with his left hand on the top rope, before ducking between the top and middle rope to step into the ring. Footage from ReVolution 106 plays, where Gamble slams Kenjiro Ito face first into the mat with his ‘Stop Laughing At Me’ signature move.
Vince Howard: Making his way to the ring, from Las Vegas, Nevada, weighing in at 187 pounds…TOOOOOOOOONYYYYYYY GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMBUUUUUUUULLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!
Richard Parker: See, Nick? Vince is a member.
Nick Stuart: That’s his job.
Lock horns, I push and I strive
Some how I feel more alive
Bury the need for it
Bury the seed
Bury me deep when there’s no will to be
Another clip shows, this one from the Great American Nightmare; where Tony Gamble became the Five Star Champion by pinning Chandler Tsonda.
Better than you
Better than you
Better than you
Better than you
After a few moments, the opening riffs of “You’re Nobody Til Somebody Loves You” by Dean Martin begins and the masked man emerges from the curtain as the lights dim and the spotlights shine on the ramp. Mortimer Kjedelig begins making his way down the ramp, pointing to the fans in attendance. As he walks by, he pays no attention to the fans, he’s there to a job and his gait shows it.
Vince Howard: And his opponent! From Horace, North Dakota. Weighing in at 248 pounds…MORTIMERRRRR KJEDELIIIIIIIIIG!
He slides into the ring under the bottom rope, step up to the middle turnbuckle and raise his hands in the air as the spotlight shines upon him. He hops off the turnbuckle and readies himself for the match as the music fades.
Nick Stuart: All right, here we go. Lots on the line for Kjedelig. Does he regain his freedom, or find a new sick form of imprisonment?
Richard Parker: Don’t put it that way, Nick. Look! We have buttons!
Mortimer wastes little time in charging at Gamble, going for a shoulder tackle. Gamble scouted it, however, and drops to his feet, rolling out of the ring to a chorus of boos.
Gamble grins as he stalks ringside, then slides under the ropes at a safe distance from Kjedelig. He beckons Kjedelig to come at him again. This time, Mortimer comes in with a swinging punch. Gamble ducks under it, but doesn’t anticipate the backhand from Kjedelig, and Gamble goes sprawling.
Nick Stuart: Gamble tried to float like a butterfly a bit too much there, and Kjedelig finally got him.
Gamble gets to his feet quickly, but Mortimer is already on top of him, grabbing him around the torso to toss him in a gutwrench suplex. He hits him with a few stomps, then walks away, pumping his fists. Surprisingly, he gets a small cheer from the crowd.
Nick Stuart: I guess the crowd is not a part of the Gamble Adoration Syndicate.
Richard Parker: The fools are missing out. Listen, the button talks!
Now we will worry about the speaker on the Tony Gamble button, because it begins playing an awful approximation of Tony Gamble’s voice.
Tony Gamble Talking Button: You want to know how I got this scar? Join GAS to find out!
Nick Stuart: How cool.
Mortimer turns around and continues the assault on Gamble. The Grin had gotten to one knee, but Mortimer rocks him with a right fix, then another, then grabs his head and hits him with a knee strike. Gamble crumples to the mat, and Mortimer drops for the pinfall.
Gamble kicks out and Mortimer grabs Gamble’s head.
Nick Stuart: These two men have had a number of run-ins over the past few weeks. There is clearly something going on between these two that we don’t quite know all the information about.
Richard Parker: What are you talking about? Mortimer is actually…
Nick Stuart: Whatever Richard is about to say has nothing to do with the match, where Mortimer Kjedelig is in firm control!
Kjedelig pulls Gamble into a front face lock and wrenches on his neck, then twists him around and falls down in a neckbreaker. Kjedelig looks down on Gamble, his face (at least the part that we can see) a picture of anger and determination. Gamble is smiling as he tries to get to his feet.
Mortimer helps Gamble up, then sends him to the turnbuckle with an impressive amount of strength. Gamble bounces off and comically falls forward.
Nick Stuart: Mortimer has the big size advantage on Gamble, and it feels like for the second time in as many matches, Mortimer is going to have to utilize that advantage to win tonight.
Mortimer lifts Gamble up and attempts to do the same to the other turnbuckle. Gamble reverses, but Mortimer reverses the reversal, sending Gamble chest first into the opposite turnbuckle. Mortimer attempts an axe handle from behind, but Gamble moves, stepping out onto the apron quickly and then drilling Mortimer with a kick to the face.
Kjedelig walks away, putting a hand to his mask and shaking his head. Gamble enters the ring and hits Kjedelig with a bulldog.
Richard Parker: Wooo! Gamble with the comeback!
Nick Stuart: I seem to remember you being quite fond of Mortimer Kjedelig in his recent matches. What changed?
Richard Parker: Kibblesandbits didn’t ever give me a button, now did he?
Tony Gamble Talking Button: Want to fit in? Adore the Grin!
Tony Gamble stomps at the legs of the fallen Kjedelig, then grabs his legs and tries to turn him over.
Nick Stuart: Gamble trying to lock in the boston crab!
Kjedelig reaches out and grabs the ropes for protection, causing Ashley Barlow to step in and separate the two. Kjedelig adjusts his legs while keeping his arms on the ropes, and when Gamble finally has the green light to pursue, he runs right into a stiff kick from Kjedelig. Mortimer pulls himself up and in a swift motion levels Gamble with a clothesline.
Nick Stuart: Big time move by Mortimer! Cover!
Gamble kicks out.
Richard Parker: Gamble needs to pick up the pace here. If he continues to work at this slower speed, the bigger Kjillianhall is going to eat him alive.
Nick Stuart: You could just call him Mortimer, you know.
Richard Parker: What?
Tony Gamble rolls to his stomach, trying to find his bearings. Kjedelig puts a knee into his back and pulls his arms back, causing him to scream. Kjedelig continues to wrench on the hold. Barlow asks Gamble if he wants to tap, but The Grin just laughs. After a few moments, Kjedelig lets go of the move, then hits an elbow drop square on the back.
Before Gamble can react, Kjedelig is back on him, lifting him up and pushing him against the ropes. He slaps Gamble across the chest with a huge slap.
Then, he sends him into the ropes. Gamble comes back and ducks under a clothesline attempt, then bounces on the other side. Mortimer bends over for a back body drop and Gamble hits his shoulder, then grabs him as he rolls over, bringing him into a pinfall attempt.
Nick Stuart: Gamble has the cover!
Mortimer kicks out, then gets up immediately just in time to eat a dropkick from Gamble. Mortimer doesn’t leave his feet, but stumbles back into the ropes. He bounces forward a bit into Gamble, who grabs him…
Nick Stuart: Big DDT by Gamble! Another cover!
Nick Stuart: Kickout by Kjedelig there, but that just shows you how dangerous a man like Tony Gamble is. You can think you have him completely down, but he takes the slightest of advantages and turns the tables.
Richard Parker: All the more reason we need to adore him!
Nick Stuart: I wouldn’t go that far.
Gamble presses his advantage, aiming a vicious stomp to the back of Kjedelig’s head. He sends another, and then lifts Mortimer up and applies a side headlock. Mortimer backs into the ropes, then sends Gamble to the other side. He comes back and goes for a flying cross body, which levels Mortimer. Mortimer gets up quickly but runs right into a spinebuster by Gamble.
Nick Stuart: Gamble is piling on the offense now!
Gamble decides not to go for the cover. Instead, he poses for the crowd, who boo loudly.
Nick Stuart: That certainly doesn’t sound like adoration to me.
Richard Parker: These fans don’t know what they’re talking about.
Gamble smirks, then finally drops for the cover.
Nick Stuart: Easy kickout by Kjedelig because Gamble wasted time hot dogging and grandstanding.
Richard Parker: Better keep your eye on the ball, Tony, he might Pearl Harbor you!
For the moment, that is not happening. Instead, Gamble lifts Kjedelig up, grabbing his head. But Mortimer snaps up and grabs Gamble’s face, giving him an eye rake.
Nick Stuart: Eye rake!
Gamble shakes his head, then counters with his own eye rake. After a moment, Mortimer recovers and gives another eye rake. Gamble then gives him another eye rake.
Nick Stuart: Dueling eye rakes!
Richard Parker: That reminds me, did I ever show you my wrestling themed remake of Deliverance?
Nick Stuart: Please no.
Richard Parker: Tony Gamble’s actually in it.
Nick Stuart: Let’s focus on the match please.
Richard Parker: After all, he sure does have a purdy…
Nick Stuart: Mortimer breaks up the eye rakes with a knee to the midsection, and then a snap suplex!
Richard Parker: Come on Tony, get it together!
Gamble is quick to his feet, but Mortimer doesn’t let him attack. He hits him with a fist to the face, then tosses him into the ropes. Rather than wait for him, he follows him and clotheslines him, sending both over the ropes. Tony tumbles to his back as Mortimer is able to stop his momentum by sitting on the apron. He looks down at Tony and snarls, then lifts him up.
Nick Stuart: Mortimer Kjedelig has a dangerous gleam in his eye!
Kjedelig grabs Tony’s arm and whips him into the steel steps, causing The Grin to groan and fall over. Mortimer steps onto the steps, beckoning for Gamble to stand up. After a few moments he finally does, and Mortimer jumps down with an axe handle smash on his forehead. Mortimer looks down at his hands and sees blood on them, as the camera gets an up-close look at the cut forehead of Gamble.
Richard Parker: Oh no, he’s busted open!
Nick Stuart: It looks like Tony Gamble’s head got cut open on those steel steps! Mortimer Kjedelig is really taking over now!
The camera cuts into Mortimer Kjedelig’s masked face. Even though most of his face is covered, the raw rage on his countenance is palpable. His chest heaves in and out and he looks down on the man who has terrorized him since coming to the fed.
Nick Stuart: Mortimer is angry, Richard. He came into PRIME and went 4 straight matches without a victory. But here he is, now with two straight wins, and he’s ready to make it a third win in a row at Tony Gamble’s expense!
Richard Parker: Come on Tony!
Gamble crawls away from Mortimer, looking to find his bearings. All he finds is a running kick to the midsection, causing him to collapse on his stomach. He then lifts Gamble up and in one swift motion suplexes him onto the back of his head on the outside. He then stands up and shouts, eliciting another small cheer.
Mortimer picks up Gamble and lifts him to his feet, then moves him to the apron. He has to practically lift Gamble up on his own because The Grin isn’t standing well by himself. Mortimer slaps him on the chest, then rolls him towards the apron. Gamble rolls and gets to all fours again, trying to stand up. Mortimer slides under the ropes and stalks Gamble, who is now crawling towards referee Ashley Barlow.
Nick Stuart: Mortimer is ready for the kill now!
Richard Parker: Come on Tony! Look! I’ll press the speaker on this button again to give you motivation!
Tony Gamble Talking Button: Devin, where are you? Devin, if you’re out there, get back with us. We miss you. I…I don’t think I can do this without you. Please. Devin. Please.
Nick Stuart: …
Richard Parker: …
Nick Stuart: …Here comes Mortimer!
As Kjedelig goes towards Gamble, the fallen Grin grabs Ashley’s legs, causing her to lose her footing, which doesn’t help as Kjedelig dives at the two. Gamble moves, causing Kjedelig to hit Barlow in the face with an axe handle, and all three fall to the floor.
Richard Parker: Hahahaha! The button worked!
Nick Stuart: Gamble just threw Barlow into the line of fire and she got knocked down!
Richard Parker: What? That’s not what happened! Mortimer just decided to hit the ref for no reason!
Gamble rolls to the side as Mortimer gets to his knees, looking down at the accidental wreckage he has caused. He puts his hand on Barlow’s back, then shakes his head. Getting to his feet, he snarls at Gamble and beckons for him to get up. When he finally does, Mortimer hits him with the Bust Out. He looks back at Barlow, who hasn’t stirred.
Nick Stuart: Mortimer wants to end it, but he can’t without the referee – wait, what’s that?
Richard Parker: Ha! Get your Adoration on!
Running down the ramp are two large men wearing black button-up shirts with the sleeves rolled up. One has a black ponytail and the other is bald. For the sake of the rest of the match, I will describe them as Pony and Baldy.
Nick Stuart: It’s those two men from ReVival 15! It’s…Gamble’s GOONS!
Richard Parker: Have some respect. They’re members of the Gamble Adoration Syndicate!
They both hit the ring at the same time, and despite Mortimer hearing the crowd and feeling something is off, he is a half second too late in his reaction time. He turns and sends a fist into Baldy, but Pony gets him immediately in a full nelson, then snaps him backward in a suplex. Baldy leaves the ring for a second as Pony lifts Mortimer up and lifts Mortimer, then hits a huge bodyslam.
Nick Stuart: This is an outrage! Mortimer had the match won!
Richard just laughs as Baldy slides back under the ropes, this time with a steel chair in hand. Pony lifts Kjedelig up and then gets out of the way as Baldy brains Kjedelig with the chair.
The crowd boos lustily as Baldy and Pony rouse The Grin and the ref, then kick the steel chair out of the ring and hop the barricade, disappearing from view. Gamble slowly crawls towards the fallen Kjedelig as Barlow recovers her wits and sees the pinfall.
DING DING DING!
Vince Howard: The winner of this match…TOOOOOOOONYYYYYYYYYY GAAAAAAAAAAMBUUUULLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!
Tony Gamble leans against the ropes, arms raised, as he looks down on Kjedelig, who is starting to stir. Gamble laughs, then rolls under the bottom rope.
Nick Stuart: That was awful! Tony was on the ropes until those goons interfered! And now Kjedelig has to join the…the damned Gamble Adoration Syndicate!
Richard Parker: I have a button for you, Morty!
Tony Gamble Talking Button: Join GAS, you’ll have a blast!
ONE LAST TIME
Angelica Brooks looks like someone who is thankful that she did not have her partner’s earlier assignments, such as Matt Mills with Tony Gamble and Simon Tillier with Winds of Change. Instead, as she smooths out her pantsuit, her eyes are focused upon one man and one man only.
Angelica Brooks: Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce the man who is wrestling his final match here tonight… Dusk.
Into the frame steps Dusk, inches away from the Argyle position.
Angelica Brooks: Dusk, tonight is your final match in PRIME as you are set to retire. This has been an improbable journey for you, with a tough loss to Cancer Jiles at ReVival 015 and now you have a Last Man Standing match against Larry Tact. Where is your mind at tonight?
Dusk shakes his head.
Dusk: On one level, Angelica, it feels good knowing I could take Cancer Jiles to the limit and he has to resort to cheating in order to walk out the victor. It gave me the confidence I need going into tonight’s match against Larry Tact. Tact though he was smart the last time we were here and would get me on his side. Little did he know that I would be ready for whatever antics he would play. My mind is here and present, my mind is ready to show Larry Tact what hell looks like. He thinks he’s seen the darkest depths of it before, but he’s seen nothing yet.
Angelica Brooks: You had an interview come out with ESPN recently about Larry Tact. Would you like to elaborate upon anything you said in that interview?
Dusk: It’s like I said, Angelica. Larry Tact could be everything he wants to be in that ring if he just decided to stop measuring out how much of himself he’s going to give in that ring. He made a critical mistake when he thought he would make his name off of my back, Angelica. Because either way, I’m walking out of here and retiring tonight. He though, he has to live with the person he is day in and day out. If he wins, does that give him a boost up the rankings? If he loses, what does that do to him when he lost to a man that was set upon retiring?
Angelica Brooks: Your final walk down that ramp tonight. What are you feeling?
Dusk takes a moment as he looks over at Angelica and drops his head for a brief moment before speaking into the microphone.
Dusk: It’s been my pleasure to get to perform in front of these fans for the past thirty years. It’s with a heavy heart that I walk away from this sport that I love so much, but I know that every single time I stepped out there, I did it while giving my all. I would’ve loved to keep doing this, to keep wrestling and performing, but I know that I’ve reached the end of the road and I am ready to accept and live with that.
Angelica smiles at Dusk.
Angelica Brooks: Well, from all of us here backstage, we thank you for continuing to pour everything you have out there for the fans and all of us. Thank you.
Dusk returns the smile and begins to walk away when a stagehand walks up to him as he approaches the Argyle position.
Stagehand: Sir, one moment before you step out there.
Dusk looks over at him.
Stagehand: Lindsay Troy wanted me to pass on a message to you, to inform you that she’s going to be calling you sometime after tonight’s show or potentially tomorrow morning.
Dusk turns his hide to the side a bit.
Dusk: Did she say why?
Stagehand: She did not, but she mentioned it to me before she headed off to the hospital to check on Jonathan Rhine. She just said it was important that you answer her call when she does.
Dusk nods his head before patting the stagehand on the back.
Dusk: Thanks, appreciate it.
He then turns and faces the Argyle position, for the final time.
T.B. AND THE BEAR
PRIME Senior officiant Timo Bolamba is intently watching a monitor with a technician that is checking a replay of the previous action on the night at the referee’s request. He remarks to the video tech that he would like to see a pin again and pulls a stopwatch out of his pocket.
Just then, Timo jerks with a start as a loud, echoing laugh rolls down the hallway. It can mean only one thing.
Timo turns and looks down the hallway, to see the form of Ivan Stanislav, The Russian Bear, filling the entire aisle as he thunders down the hall towards him. Usually, when Ivan Stanislav approaches anyone, he’s roaring, running, glowering, sneering, snorting, yelling, stomping, and threatening. But this isn’t the case. Stanislav smiles from ear to ear in an almost comically unsettling manner that is the antithesis of his typical demeanor. He carries under one of his huge arms a large, unlabeled bottle of clear liquid. His voice booms up and down the hallway as he bellows with a chuckle.
Ivan Stanislav: Timo Bolamba! Great Lenin’s Ghost, it has been long time!
About ten feet behind Ivan, Alexei Ruslan walks with his hands behind his back, doing nothing but observing carefully. Ruslan stares straight at Bolamba, and he doesn’t look nearly as friendly as The Russian Bear. Timo seems gobstruck that Ivan is even here, let alone that he is acknowledging him in person. Jabber banter is one thing, but this is almost a surreal moment.
Ivan Stanislav: Twenty years! How time goes by, does it not? And now, look at you, wearing the zebra stripes!
Stanislav wiggles his massive finger towards Timo.
Ivan Stanislav: I always said this! Timo Bolamba is as principled as they come. Timo Bolamba always is man to stand up for those in need. Timo Bolamba always is man who sticks to self honor and makes sure things are done right way, eh?!
By now, Ivan stands just a foot from Timo, and casts a long shadow across his body. Stanislav smirks and lifts his square chin and still smiles.
Timo Bolamba: Hello Ivan, it’s been a very long time. Did you come to convince me in the ways of Lenin?
Ivan Stanislav: Nyet, I bring all the way from my own home some vodka made just by me! This present is for you! Chilled in Arkhangelsk ice!
Stanislav offers the bottle to Timo and grins still, showing his huge teeth. Timo looks wary, but The Russian Bear insists.
Ivan Stanislav: A gift to my old friend.
Ruslan does his best to appear invisible, behind Ivan, and continues staring. The Samoan reaches out hesitantly, and takes the bottle.
Timo Bolamba: Friend? I guess you could say that. Though my chiropractor is still charging me for the Red Scare you hit me with in Alliances 2001.
Ivan shrugs to himself.
Ivan Stanislav: What can you do about these things? Say, I heard that you are officiating great, long awaited return of Ivan Stanislav. I am certain you jumped at opportunity to be part of this historic moment. I not only wanted to find you because we have so much… history… but also because of how proud I am that you took up job officiating. If you may remember, poor officiating in the past between yourself and Ivan Stanislav resulted in tainted victory at my expense!
Timo raises an eyebrow.
Timo Bolamba: Now hold on a se…
Ivan Stanislav: Ivan is certain that you have agonized over such terrible injustice for so many years, you finally have opportunity to right that grievous wrong. For that, Ivan is grateful! It takes true man to admit the folly of those tainted victories!
The Samoan looks at Ruslan then back to Ivan. He does not appear amused.
Timo Bolamba: Ivan, you know as well as I do that those wins were legitimate. Sure…I never directly pinned you, but the rules are the rules and your team lost. I can’t help that I hold a winning record over “The Great Ivan Stanislav”…and I am surely not going to let you forget it.
Timo pauses before continuing.
Timo Bolamba: Come to think of it, I beat Meanstreak clean without a soda machine or anything to aid me. Did you manage to do that? I can’t recall. You two had so many great battles, after all.
Stanislav puffs up his chest a bit more and places his huge paw of a hand on Timo’s chest, but he still smiles. Nonetheless, the smile that once reached his eyes isn’t that wide anymore.
Ivan Stanislav: Now now, Timo, there is no need to get upset. You said you still have work done due to Red Scares back in the day, yes? I am sure it rendered your mind a little foggy. And I cannot be held responsible for any mishaps Meanstreak may have had with capitalist soda machine.
Ivan does rub his chin after a moment, no longer touching Timo.
Ivan Stanislav: I may admit sometimes it is blur, considering how many World Titles Ivan held in PCW and OSW. Always having to be representative of such lofty organizations. All the charity work Ivan had to do and public appearances.
Ivan snaps his finger suddenly, it might as well be a thunderbolt.
Ivan Stanislav: Speaking of which, since we are talking about the past, how many World Titles did you have again?
The Samoan Silencer nods slowly. He sees full well what Ivan is doing, but there is nothing on this earth that can stop the end result now.
Timo Bolamba: I held the FSW World Championship through several months and even represented Team FSW at Alliances 2002. I thought you knew that? I suppose at that time you were pretty busy coming out to the ring to that generic Ozzy Osbourne song and abandoning communism to chase that lady around.
He looks at Alexei.
Timo Bolamba: Hey Ruslan, do you remember when Ivan became more or less American and meandered all over OSW letting Sebastian Toomes and White Mexican be the big dogs? That sure was a good time for everyone.
Stanislav growls under his breath.
Ivan Stanislav: Why you little…
But it’s actually Alexei who clears his throat and interjects, standing between Ivan and Timo, if on the outside still.
Alexei Ruslan: For the record, dear Timo, everything Ivan Sergeiovich did in OSW, and PCW for that matter, was sanctioned by the government of The Russian Federation. And as for..
Ivan is no longer smiling and his face turns stormy.
Ivan Stanislav: As for all of the other things you have said, I apologize if I received more cheers than dear Timo Bolamba. I was not about to come out to some song called “Warrior of Love.”
He barked out a laugh, but one of his hands is balled into an anvil-sized fist.
Ivan Stanislav: Twenty years has gone by, I bring gifts to not only non-Russian, but non-communist, and all you can do is try to insult me? This is very poor showing, Timo.
Ivan shakes his head. Alexei glances between the two of them, but predominantly watches Ivan carefully. For his part, the face painted PRIME senior officiant does not back down.
Timo Bolamba: About that. You do know I am not Speedy Riggs, right? And even if I stooped to “remembering an old friend” when I was making a call in the ring, I have personally trained every officiant in PRIME to inspect and report errors to Lindsay Troy herself. For accuracy, you see.
Stanislav clears his throat and frowns at that.
Ivan Stanislav: Unfortunately I am certain you are no Speedy Riggs. I would hardly ever consider asking you to break rules set in PRIME, certainly not. I just thought you might remember that rules are different for Ivan and Alexei, eh? But if you don’t recall, it is quite all right, dear Timo. Hm?
Timo thinks over his next words in pensive contemplation.
Timo Bolamba: I guess you will just have to hope you’re still good enough. But don’t worry about what I have to say. My time has passed and here you are, in all your suspendered glory.
The Samoan sighs a little and smiles. He remembers great battles with Ivan in the past and, deep down, does consider him to be a friend.
Timo Bolamba: Even still. Here you are. Here I am. Shame that we can’t do it one more time to set the record straight once and for all, isn’t it?
The Russian Bear looks down at Alexei, who then looks over at Timo, as does Ivan.
Ivan Stanislav: Yes, here we are, after all these years. It is a shame, but you are officiant now, yes? Which is honorable job nonetheless, Timo.
Alexei chimes in.
Alexei Ruslan: Oh, and here, we did have something for you to take to the ring…
Ruslan fishes into the pocket of his brown trench coat and produces a small sponge which, naturally, has the hammer and sickle of the Former Soviet Union emblazoned on the front.
Alexei Ruslan: This is so you can sponge up Hayes Hanlon after we are through with him.
Ruslan smirks and Ivan nods, but he’s smiling once more. He suddenly clasps his huge hand on Timo’s shoulder and squeezes, not in a threatening way but more a warm way. At least as much as Ivan can muster.
Ivan Stanislav: It is nice to see you, Timo Bolamba. You may have questionable memory, not be Russian, not be communist, not ever have been part of Red Army, and may have been in Ivan’s way in the past, but despite all of these otherwise egregious shortcomings, Ivan is still happy to see you!
Ivan winks at Timo.
Ivan Stanislav: And you enjoy vodka, hm? And just remember what I said: these young children aren’t ready for how Ivan handles business in wrestling ring, eh?
The Samoan looks at the bottle of vodka in his hand. He returns the warm regard and nods.
Timo Bolamba: Da, comrade. Da.
Ivan smiles a wide, toothy grin once more.
Ivan Stanislav: Good to see you, Samoan Silencer. Let us get going.
The Bear nods once more at Timo and winks at him, before turning to walk away. Ruslan tosses the sponge in the air, and leaves it up to Timo to catch it. The two Russians speak jovially in their native tongue as they make distance from Timo. For one moment, Ruslan turns and looks at Timo, backpedaling as he makes eye contact, before seamlessly turning and walking away with his much larger comrade. It’s not long before the laughing Russians are down another hallway and their conversation is nothing but a dull roar.
LAST MAN STANDING: DUSK vs. LARRY TACT
We cut back to the arena, totally blacked out.
“Pieces of Man” by Drown plays over the sound system and Royal blue lights flicker on the stage while golden spotlights scan the crowd. They settle on the center stage where Larry Tact stands.
Vince Howard: This match is a LAST MAN STANDING MATCH! Coming to the ring first, standing at six feet and six inches tall, weighing in at 260 pounds, he is LARRRRRRRRRRRRRY TAAAAAAAAAAACT!
He opens his arms and puffs out his chest, soaking in the crowd’s reaction before bellowing and making his way down the ramp, the spotlight following him. Larry walks down the aisle, jawing with some fans holding baby Dusk dolls.
Nick Stuart: This has been heating up since ReVival 11, and hasn’t stopped the entire way.
Richard Parker: He wants to end the old man’s career!
Nick Stuart: That happens either way Richard.
He pulls himself up using the ropes and walks slowly along the apron before wiping his boots and entering the ring. He stretches using the ropes before bouncing from side-to-side.
Richard Parker: You know what I mean Nick.
The lights dim again, there is a long pause. Just as the crowd grows restless.
Fireworks explode all around the MGM-Grand Arena and “Death Grip” by Watt White engulfs the arena in sound.
And I’m fire
From the backstage area emerges “The Lost Soul” Dusk, who looks ready for a fight. He stands at the top of the ramp and looks out at the fans, many of whom are on their feet and chanting his name.
DUSK! DUSK! DUSK! DUSK!
He’s not wearing his usual ring gear, instead opting for a pair of light blue jeans and wrestling boots. His hair is perfectly coifed as he looks around the arena for his final entrance.
Vince Howard: And his opponent… standing at six feet and four inches tall, weighing in at 225 pounds, he is THE LOST SOUL! DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUSK!
Dusk then looks down the ramp into the ring where Larry Tact is standing. His eyes narrow as he begins to make his way down the ramp, extending his arms, and high fiving the fans who are wanting one, but his eyes never lose track of Tact. As he reaches the bottom of the ramp, he reaches underneath the ring, and produces a steel pipe.
Nick Stuart: Well, I guess we are in for a fight.
Richard Parker: I figured when Dusk came out in jeans and not his Beetlejuice pants, that he was looking to knock Tact out in his final match.
Nick Stuart: His final match.
Richard Parker: Don’t go getting teary-eyed! We’re about to watch two men beat the hell out of each other. This is going to be amazing!
Dusk stomps up the ring steps and enters the ring. Elvis Nixon cuts off the ring and orders Dusk to his corner, who smacks the lead pipe into his opposite hand. Tact mouths off at Dusk, but Nixon shoots him a look and orders him to his corner.
Nick Stuart: Nixon knows how brutal this match is about to be and is trying to have some order before we get underway here.
Richard Parker: Don’t care, let them FIGHT!
Nixon agrees and calls for the bell.
The two men collide in the center of the ring immediately. Tact and Dusk both throwing right hands. Hands are flying all over the place, and finally Tact takes the upper hand with a kick to the stomach. Dusk tries to fire back again, but Tact delivers another boot to the midsection followed by a right hand across the eye.
Nick Stuart: Starting fast in this one tonight
Richard Parker: Yeah, for some reason one match on every show starts off with people dancing around going for single legs. Nice to see a change of pace.
Dusk stumbles into the ropes but Tact follows. He smashes Dusk with a right jab, stunning him and then irish whipping him across the ring. Tact follows and just as Dusk comes off the rope Tact levels him with a lariat. Dusk stumbles backwards and spills between the ropes while Tact is all over him.
Nick Stuart: Tact is relentless!
Tact steps through the ropes and brings Dusk up to his feet. Tact grabs Dusk in a front face lock and throws Dusk’s arm behind his head. He tries to lift Dusk up for a suplex on the apron, but Dusk kicks his legs furiously and Tact has to set him down. Tact tries to elbow Dusk in the stomach, but Dusk delivers a quick short right hand to Tact’s to stop his elbows’ momentum.
Nick Stuart: Great dirty boxing by Dusk.
Richard Parker: He’s like as old as me, of course he has good dirty boxing. They actually boxed when we were kids.
Dusk reverses the front face lock and tries to pick Tact up in a suplex of his own, but Tact grabs ahold of the top rope forcing Dusk to put him back down. Dusk delivers a knee to Tact’s midsection and immediately drives Tact’s had into the apron with a DDT.
Nick Stuart: OOOF! That was a brutal DDT on the apron!
Richard Parker: Hardest part of the ring yadda yadda yadda etc… Woo go Dusk. That was sarcasm in case you were worried.
Dusk pulls himself back up onto the apron from the floor, he runs the length of the apron and jumps off dropping a huge elbow into Larry Tact’s sternum. Tact cringes and grabs his chest, but Dusk, landing on his feet, isn’t done. He runs over back onto the apron and starts climbing the ropes. Tact rolls off the apron holding his chest. He stumbles towards Dusk who made it to the top rope, Dusk leaps.
Richard Parker: YOU ARE A GRANDFATHER! DO NOT DO THIS!
Nick Stuart: HERE COMES DUSK!
Dusk leaps with a cross body but Larry Tact catches the 225 pound Dusk out of midair. Tact stumbles backwards a few steps, but with the momentum he spins and slams Dusk to the ground with a powerslam.
Richard Parker: CANCEL TAKE YOUR PAPPY TO SCHOOL DAY! DUSK IS DEAD!
Nick Stuart: What a powerslam from Larry Tact. Dusk is down.
Nixon steps out onto the apron and goes to start counting, but Tact is far from finished. He marches to the timekeeper’s table grabbing the ring bell. He comes back and swings the bell down onto the still grounded Dusk.
Richard Parker: DING DING DING! That’s the end of Dusk’s career!
Nick Stuart: Violent men do have violent endings.
Tact stops after the first bell shot, grabbing the hammer and driving it into Dusk’s scalp. He grabs the back of Dusk’s head and presses into him as hard as he can. Dusk screams out in pain while kicking and screaming. Finally satisfied with the damage of the hammer, Tact pulls back the old man’s gray hair to reveal a cut just below the hairline. Tact fires off a series of right hands into the cut. He gets to his feet, and stomps the cut twice just to make sure Dusk was down before looking to Elvis Nixon.
Richard Parker: He wanted to make sure he left a bloody mess! What a monster Larry Tact is. I love it.
Nick Stuart: Tact is really motivated here.
Tact grins ear to ear as Dusk struggles to make his way over to the barricade.
Richard Parker: That does it right? That’s a three count?
Nick Stuart: It’s a last man standing match, it’s a ten count.
Richard Parker: Damn.
We see Dusk’s head busted wide open as he slowly gets to his feet. Tact rushes to him and whips him into the ring apron. Dusk turns around cringing as Tact unloads more right hands into his forehead. Tact turns towards the camera showing a bloodied Dusk and snarls, sending Dusk into the ring post. Larry grabs Dusk and goes to slam his head off the steel steps but Dusk manages to put his foot down and stop the momentum.
Nick Stuart: Dusk stopped Tact in his tracks!
Richard Parker: That tracks.
Nick Stuart: I hate you.
Dusk grabs Tact by the neck and rolls him into the ring. The bloodied Dusk climbs to the top rope.
Richard Parker: Hasn’t he learned?
Nick Stuart: Dusk will do anything to beat Larry Tact tonight!
Dusk leaps off the top rope and Tact gets hammered by the cross body this time. Both men take their time to get to their feet. Dusk makes it first, and runs at Tact hammering him with a running knee. Tact doesn’t go down though and Dusk comes running in with a second knee strike, but Tact comes out of the corner and flips Dusk with a lariat.
Richard Parker: He turned him inside out!
Nick Stuart: What a clothesline from Tact!
Both men go to the canvas, the hard hitting confrontation has taken its toll. The two get to their feet at close to the same time. They lock up with a collar and elbow tie-up. It’s over quickly as Tact reverses and sends Dusk into the ropes.
Richard Parker: Let’s end it here Larry!
Nick Stuart: Dusk off the ropes and here comes Larry.
Tact swings with a lariat but Dusk ducks under. Tact continues to the ropes but Dusk slams on the brakes, Tact comes back off the ropes and starts to dive for a spear but Dusk absolutely crushes him with a superkick. Tact explodes backwards like he was shot out of a cannon, and slams into the canvas. Dusk drags himself over to the ropes and leans against them. He looks back towards Tact while Nixon starts to count.
Nick Stuart: What a superkick from Dusk there.
Richard Parker: I can’t believe he can get his leg that high still.
Tact sits up, shaking his head. He gets to his feet quickly, but Dusk doesn’t even let him finish getting up. He fires off another superkick to the side of Tact’s head this time. Dusk stumbles off to the corner, his face still covered in blood. He leans against the top rope, and pulls it down to the canvas.
Nick Stuart: That superkick from Dusk was brutal.
Richard Parker: COME ON TACT!
Larry Tact sits up.
He’s still groggy, rubbing his head.
Nick Stuart: Why can’t you just let other people be happy?
Richard Parker: Cancer Jiles is in the main event Nick. There is no joy in this world.
Larry Tact gets to a knee.
Dusk is still in the corner crouched down, he’s screaming for Tact to get to his feet. The blood from his forehead is pouring all over the canvas. Tears have welled up and are streaming down his cheeks. He’s waving and beckoning Tact back to his feet.
Nick Stuart: Dusk wants this bad! He’s begging for Tact to stand.
Tact gets to his feet, and Dusk takes a hop step and hits a picture perfect super kick for the third time. This one once again, absolutely crushes Tact across the jaw. Tact falls over almost like a cartoon, as if he was shot. Dusk falls to his knees before slowly getting back to his feet. He stumbles to the corner again and holds himself up.
Nick Stuart: Tact is out.
Richard Parker: Of course he’s out Nick, the man’s had his brain kicked out through his ears.
Tact starts to sit up again.
Richard Parker: C’MON LARRY!
Nick Stuart: THAT’S IT! THAT’S ALL! DUSK DID IT! DUSK DID IT!
Dusk collapses into the center of the ring with his head in his hands as Vince Howard comes into the ring.
Vince Howard: The winner of this match… and a PRIME legend… DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUSSSSSSSSK!
DUSK! DUSK! DUSK! DUSK!
Nick Stuart: I can’t hear myself think in here Richard.
Richard Parker: This is incredible.
Elvis Nixon bends down checking on Dusk as Tact crawls out of the ring and makes his way to the back. Nixon helps Dusk to his feet, Dusk, no longer looks like an athlete going for the kill, with the adrenaline gone he looks like a bloodied fifty-year old grandfather.
NEVER BET ON RED
“Ivan Stanislav. The Russian Bear. Back from the dead.”
Opening up, we find “Event Horizon” Hayes Hanlon sitting at a roulette table inside the MGM Grand. Black button up on, sleeves rolled up. Hair and mustache on point, sipping from a gin and tonic. He places a few chips on various numbers before the dealer spins the wheel.
Hayes Hanlon: Primetime Championship Wrestling Champion. Old School Wrestling Champion. Seven feet tall, four-hundred pounds, and everything Randall Knox wasn’t.
He takes a sip and shakes his head.
Hayes Hanlon: This wasn’t the plan, sir. But hey…
The roulette pill bounces around until finally coming to rest on red 9. No chips go back to Home Run Hayes.
Hayes Hanlon: …you never really know what’s coming around here.
The dealer collects and hands out chips to the other patrons at the table. Hayes swirls his ice in the glass.
Hayes Hanlon: I know I’m unfamiliar to you. And honestly I had to really jog my memory when you popped up on the screen. I was still shitting my pants when you were terrorizing PTC. Which tells me that you’re probably not expecting much from this rookie. I’m no Meanstreak, after all. But Ivan?
Hayes tosses out a few more chips, and the dealer spins.
Hayes Hanlon: I’m pretty fuckin’ good, man.
The pill clatters, the patrons watch with excitement. Hayes, however, states focused on the camera.
Hayes Hanlon: And you’re over sixty years old. More than twice my age, and still built like a soviet tank. Still lookin’ like you can grind me into paste. And maybe you will. No one would blame me for getting my ask kicked by the Russian Bear, even after all those years.
The pill lands. Red 1. No money.
Hayes Hanlon: Or, maybe Home Run Hayes walks out and sends your giant ass through the middle of the ring.
He stands from the table, tilting back the rest of his drink.
Hayes Hanlon: I don’t plan on getting ground into paste, Ivan. And a win may be a long shot, but either way, I’m putting the roster on notice. Let the chips fall where they may.
The dealer resets, chips spread across the table.
Hayes Hanlon: But everyone knows…
The Event Horizon takes his remaining stack in hand, planting it firmly on the table’s black square, and turns back to stare at the camera.
Hayes Hanlon: …you never bet on red.
The dealer spins, but Hayes walks off, disappearing into MGM’s gambling crowd.
Nick Stuart: All right. Hayes Hanlon with some last words before he takes on the returning Ivan Stanislaw.
Richard Parker: The Russian Bear is going to maul Hanlon and it’s going to get ugly.
Nick Stuart: Well, speaking of ugly. We have to report that during our commercial break, there was an incident in the crowd and we’re going to show you what just happened right now.
A few minutes ago…
Adam Ellis leans back in his seat and checks his cell phone for texts.
Nick Stuart: So as we saw earlier in the night, Adam Ellis was in the crowd watching the show…
Suddenly, a forearm smacks Ellis in the face and then someone jumps on top of him. A scuffle breaks out and people get out of the way.
Nick Stuart: …when this took place.
The camera zooms in on a scrum going on in the seats. A man wearing a mask over his face… like the one you’d wear if you’ve just had your nose broken- severely… is on top of someone and raining down punches.
Nick Stuart: That’s right. ‘REAL LOVE’ Darin Zion came up to Ellis and attacked him.
Security immediately converges on the area and tries to separate the two.
Richard Parker: So much for real love.
Nick Stuart: Remember, Ellis and Zion had big issues with each other at High Octane Wrestling before Adam signed on with PRIME and it looks like it’s not over yet.
Zion is yanked back by two burly men. Ellis has a bloody nose and he has to be held back by security personnel.
Nick Stuart: Wade Elliott’s PRIME Security had things under control. Zion and Ellis were separated and tempers began to calm down. Then this…
Ginny Van Lear suddenly appears.
Nick Stuart: Ellis’s wife Ginny Van Lear, who’d left to get another box of popcorn and a drink, came back to their seat…
Van Lear kicks off her shoes and climbs up on a seat. She propels herself towards Zion with a spinning kick. Security snatches her out of the air in mid-flight and pulls her away with her foot coming less than an inch from connecting with Zion’s face.
Nick Stuart: and she tried to kick Zion’s head off.
Richard Parker: I would have paid money to see that happen.
Security escorts Ellis and Van Lear, and Darin Zion separately to the back without further incident.
Nick Stuart: Ellis, Van Lear, and Zion were then taken backstage.
Richard Parker: Told you the kid should have watched the show in the back. This wouldn’t have happened if he’d done that.
Nick Stuart: Well, we’ll keep an eye on this one as I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of whatever the issue is between ‘Real Love’ Darin Zion and Adam Ellis.
HAYES HANLON vs. IVAN STANISLAV
Nick Stuart: UltraViolence rolls on, and folks, our next matchup is a special one.
Richard Parker: Ivan Stanislav is in the building, Nick! After nearly twenty years!
Nick Stuart: And he steps into the place where Randall Knox was meant to be; face to face with “Event Horizon” Hayes Hanlon. A loooot of questions coming out of this one, partner.
Richard Parker: Plenty, Nick. Questions like, “how long will it take to scrape Hayes off Ivan’s boot?” And, “how far can a seven foot Russian throw a two-hundred and sixty pound man?”
Nick Stuart: I won’t lie, those could be fair questions. But there are also questions out of the Stanislav camp. Ivan is over sixty years old, and hasn’t seen the ring in near two decades. Which version of Ivan will we see tonight? The monster that once terrorized Primetime Central in the early 2000s? Or a man slowed by age and time away from the business?
Richard Parker: And will Hayes be able to keep his head on straight?
Nick Stuart: And speaking of the young Hanlon, I think he’s ready to say hello.
The light dims and fades, almost choked out of the arena, leaving it in darkness, with only the sounds of the UltraViolence crowd stirring to break the stillness.
Then, faint words whisper through the speakers.
“Do not go gentle into that good night.”
And then, a small, white light. An orb hanging in the center of the ring.
“Rage. Rage against the dying of the light.”
It hangs in the air for a while. Shimmering, bobbing slightly. Then, in a sudden burst, the orb explodes into thousands of individual specks, spreading in every direction through the arena. They start to turn, swirling counter-clockwise. The voice over the speakers rising gently with a stylized, fragmented version of the poem by Dylan Thomas.
“Do not go gentle.”
A pulse. The lights flicker a moment before continuing their orbit around the Garden.
“Do NOT go gentle.”
Another disruption, harder and sharper. The voice grows louder.
Another. The lights shudder to fight back. Louder.
Vibrating, oscillating. LOUDER.
Unable to hold any longer, the thousands of white fragments rush back in, returning to their original form as the floating orb in the ring.
Silence, and one last whisper.
“Rage against the dying of the light.”
And then, the music.
“I FALL INTO A BLACK HOLE IN MY HEAAAADD!!!!”
The chorus to “Black Hole” by We Came as Romans erupts, and with it the floating orb, this time completely filling the arena with that bright white light, forcing those in attendants to shield their eyes.. A broad figure, a silhouette against the brightness, has taken place center-ring, rising from one knee and reaching one hand to the ceiling. And at this, the MGM Garden bellows with the music.
Vince Howard: OUR NEXT MATCH IS SCHEDULED FOR ONE-FALL!!
Vince Howard: Introducing first! From West Linn, Oregon!!
The light gives way, and the frame of the Event Horizon reveals itself. He spreads his arms to the crowd, tilting his head back and drawing a deep breath through his nose, eyes shut.
Vince Howard: Standing six feet, three inches tall! Weighing in at two-hundred and sixty-one pounds!!
Hayes brings his head forward, opening his eyes, followed by a small smirk behind his mustache.
Vince Howard: Former Five Star Champion! The ReVival Era’s FIRST Champion!
He rolls his shoulders back, and lifts his eyes to the ceiling once more.
Vince Howard: THE EVENT HORIZON!!
His big arms shoot to the sky, fingers spread, and the music thunders once again.
Vince Howard: HAAAAAAAYYES!!! HAAAAANLLLOOOOOONNNNNN!!!!!!
Nick Stuart: Home Run Hayes is here, and after the whirlwind that was ReVival 15 for the young man, he looks ready for the challenge!!
Hanlon makes the rounds, ringpost to ringpost. He breathes in the spectacle, and smooths out his mustache, beating his chest to a roaring crowd, his standard flickering flashbulbs taking over in the MGM Grand.
Nick Stuart: The young career of the Oregon native has not been defined by his successes, but by his response to defeat. Julian Bathory pushed him from the Almasy early in the second round at the start of the year, and Hayes went on to win the Five Star Title at Culture Shock. Rezin defeated him at Great American Nightmare, and the Event Horizon came back immediately with an enormous win over Cancer Jiles at ReVival 11. And now, on the back of a frustrating loss to GREAT SCOTT at ReVival 15, Hayes now has the opportunity to rise up again, but against an opponent unlike any other.
Richard Parker: Consistency, Nick. The kid needs consistency. He’s got the chops, he’s got the talent, but he’s gotta learn not to take his eyes off the prize.
The music trails, the flashbulbs fade, and the house lights come up. Hanlon falls back against the ropes in his corner, and sets his sights to the top of the ramp. He is deadly serious as he surveys the entrance to the arena waiting for what seems like an eternity, but really only takes moments.
The arena darkens and the voice of Stu Nahan plays over the PA, crackling with static befitting history.
“And now the entrance of the Russian National Champion.”
The crowd looks to the top of the ramp and waits for the terror of PCW old. Crowd noise pumps in from the movie clip and the fans stir.
“Ivan Drago, a man with an entire country in his corner.”
The crowd roars, figuring out the reference to the classic Rocky IV. A beam of light shines to the entrance of the ramp just below the screen.
“Look at the expression on the face of Ivan Drago who seems impervious to the madness of this crowd.”
Another beam of light and the Soviet flag, in all its Red and glory, replete with the golden hammer and sickle begins waving on the screen.
“Like a volcano… just waiting to erupt”
As the word “erupt” fades into the darkness, the horns of The Red Army Choir signal the arrival of legend itself as The National Anthem of The USSR signals a bath of red light to envelope the arena. The two beams of light cross at the top of the ramp, and Ivan Stanislav steps out from Fynmore position to take his place once again in the spotlight. Alexie Ruslan shadows him from a few steps behind, keeping pace but making sure that the focus is on Ivan.
Nick Stuart: Here we go ladies and gentlemen! This is a man who is as dangerous as he is decorated in the annals of history! Doug Troy, Trash Can Man, Boda, Jeremy Howard, Kremmen, Tyler Nelson, Meanstreak, Miyagawa, Jason Snow, Kid Wonder, Clyde, Ed Novak, Big Alan Steele, Duke Williams, and he personally pinned our own Senior Officiant Timo Bolamba in Alliances 2001…the list of legends Ivan has beaten is almost as long as his list of nicknames!
Richard Parker: But can he beat Hayes Hanlon? Can he keep up with the new age of wrestlers or is he just a relic of the past?
Nick Stuart: We are about to find out!
Ivan and Alexie slowly make their way down the ramp. At the crescendo of The Soviet Anthem, Ivan reaches the ring. He and Alexie turn and stand at attention to the flag which is still waving on the screen. As they do, an explosion rocks the arena as pyrotechnics blast in the shape of a hammer and sickle.
The crowd reacts with a mixture of cheers and boos as they remember the legend.
The red bathes over Ivan and he steps to the mat, and over the top rope. He holds his spectacular fist up in the air with a mighty roar and the red light dissipates as the anthem comes to an end. Vince Howard steps forward to announce the Russian.
Vince Howard: And his opponent, from Arkhangelsk, Russia!!
The fans, many of which have never seen anyone of his stature before, are awestruck at the size of The Russian Bear.
Vince Howard: Standing seven feet, one inches tall! Weighing in at four hundred pounds! Former PCW Continental Champion, PCW Tag Champion, PCW World Champion, 4 time PCW National Pride Match winner, PCW Wrestler of the year…
Ivan stands as still as a stone as his accolades are read, measuring young Hanlon.
Vince Howard: OSW Wrestler of the year, and the longest reigning OSW World Champion of AAAAAAALLLL TIMMMEEEE….
Vince waves his hand toward the monolith from Communist Russia.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen…THE RUSSIAN BEAR…IIIIIVAAAAAAAAAAAN!!! STAAAAAANISLAAAAV!!!
A man in the front row stands up and points at an American flag tee shirt that he is wearing only for Alexie Ruslan to give him a lecture in Russian and Ivan to bellow in the man’s direction. This is enough to elicit more boo’s from the crowd. Both men step forward, and Ivan simply towers over Hanlon.
Nick Stuart: This has an incredibly palpable big match feel! There is a buzz in the air and electricity in the ring.
Richard Parker: Do the tale of the tape, Nick!
Nick Stuart: Hayes Hanlon, 6’3” 261 lbs. Ivan Stanislav 7’1” and a positively ursine 400 lbs. Forget about David and Goliath folks, this is shaping up to be a modern day retelling of classic Bible study!
Richard Parker: But can David do it twice?
Timo Bolamba brings each man to the center of the ring and checks both over for foreign objects before Vince Howard brings the mic in for the Prime Senior Officiant.
Timo Bolamba: Gentlemen, we have gone over the rules backstage and I expect a clean match. Listen to my instructions at all times. If you want to show respect, now is the time to do it.
Hanlon holds out his hand and Ivan laughs before backing away slowly, never letting his eyes leave the mustachioed warrior. The fans boo heavily as Hayes is left hanging with his hand in the air. He shakes his head as he walks back to his corner.
Hanlon pumps himself up and points at Ivan, eliciting a reaction from the fans. Ivan smirks and tells him to “come on” by waving his massive hand. Hayes charges forward and lifts both hands over his head to double axe handle smash Ivan, only to be caught with a giant palm around his entire face. Ivan cocks his head back and headbutts Hanlon, knocking him half across the mat with one shot. The monstrous Russian stalks forward adamantly and grabs Hayes by the neck. A massive knee lift knocks Hanlon off his feet onto his stomach and takes all the wind out of his young sails.
Nick Stuart: Early domination by Ivan here, hopefully he doesn’t hurt Hanlon.
Richard Parker: Hanlon is out of his league here. Ivan may be sixty but he doesn’t perform a day over thirty!
Hanlon lays flat on the mat and Ivan steps up and on his competitor with one foot planted squarely in Hanlon’s back. As he does, Hayes squirms and yells out in pain. Four hundred pounds of Russian pauses before turning and dropping a huge elbow to his fallen opponent.
Ivan grunts as he stands up and brushes his hands together. He sees Hayes stir on the ground and reaches down to pick him up. The young man tries to lay a hammering shot to the mid-section, but Ivan shrugs it off and throws Hayes end-over-end across the ring for the temerity of the blow.
Nick Stuart: Ivan just will not let Hayes have a moment to build momentum.
Richard Parker: Solid strategy against a guy who can turn into a walking hype train at a moment’s notice.
Hayes makes it up to a knee and shakes the cobwebs loose in his head. He knows that so far it has been ALL Ivan and he has to try something else. There is no way he can match power with the monstrous Russian Bear, but he does have the advantage of youth. Hayes rushes at Ivan once again and leaps at him throwing all two hundred and sixty one pounds at the behemoth in suspenders with a flying cross body, but Ivan catches him in mid air!
Ivan shifts, turns Hayes, and locks his arms around the smaller man with a gigantic Bear hug! Timo steps in and begins to check on Hanlon as the younger man gets ragdolled back and forth by Stanislav. Outside the ring, Alexie Ruslan is delivering encouragement in Russian to his charge, Ivan.
Nick Stuart: Hanlon is fading fast here folks. I am not exaggerating when I say that Hayes Hanlon has had absolutely no offense in this match and is being completely dominated.
Richard Parker: I haven’t seen this kind of Russian dominance since John Wick 3!
Nick Stuart: Well Richard, consider that Balaam is 6’7” and 345 lbs, and Ivan makes him look like a toy in the ring. Hanlon is simply in over his head and I hope the young man can find his stride soon!
Ivan leans on Hayes and flexes his arms with brute power, sapping the life from the young man. Hanlon is trying to fight the much much larger man but he just doesn’t have the strength to break the hold. After several failed attempts, it is clear he isn’t going to power his way out.
Timo checks Hanlon as he appears to be losing the fight to stay conscious. The Samoan checks his arm and it drops once. The fans cheer as they rally behind Hayes and the dull roar becomes quite a stir as his arm goes up and drops a second time. Ivan readjusts and squeezes harder.
Timo reaches down and pulls up Hanlon’s arm and just as it is about to drop for the third time, he somehow stops and makes a fist.
Hayes’ fist clenches so tight that the knuckles are white and he shakes it with energy as Ivan’s eyes go wide. Hammerin’ Hanlon measures, cocks back his fist and begins to drive it home into the watermelon sized skull of Ivan Stanislav. The Russian shrugs it off, but he can’t shrug off the second, or third and before long he is forced to let go of Hayes. The younger man wastes no time at all in going to work on the body, laying clubbing blows into the huge target that is Ivan’s midsection. The Bear grunts and takes a wild swing at Hayes, who easily dodges and lays a blow into the other side of Ivan’s midsection.
Nick Stuart: Beautiful Strategy here by Hanlon, take the older wrestler’s body and you take his stamina!
Richard Parker: I am led to believe Ivan has fortified his diet with Tvorog, Sour Cabbage, and Beetroot. If you are what you eat, he is a walking superfood.
Nick Stuart: That may be true but let’s not forget that Ivan hasn’t seen a ring in two decades. There is nothing that can replicate the feel of the ring or the fists of an opponent.
Hanlon pushes the action, throwing all his weight into a shoulder block into Ivans gut which causes the large man to stumble backward. Hayes steps forward and tries to use his knee to strike the big man’s torso, but as he tries to lift his leg, Alexie Ruslan has reached up and is holding his foot.
Timo circles and sees the interference. As he admonishes and warns Alexie, who drops the foot and argues in Russian with the Samoan officiant, Ivan grabs Hanlon by the head with both hands and bites down on his cheek with his huge pearly whites. As Hayes screams in pain, Timo turns his attention to Ivan and throws himself between both the competitors to separate them. As Ivan stands over Timo in his corner being admonished by the referee, Hanlon fumes and holds his cheek.
Nick Stuart: Dirty tactics by the Russians!
Richard Parker: That is Ivan 101 right there!
Timo finally backs off and tells Ivan to continue and follow the rules. The big man stalks forward and holds out a hand in the air to invite Hayes into the classic “test of strength”.
Nick Stuart: Hayes can’t seriously be thinking about doing this can he?
Richard Parker: I think Hayes can’t help himself under these bright lights, he has to put on a show!
Hayes reaches up tentatively and locks one hand in. He slowly reaches outward and locks his second hand inside of Ivan’s monstrous paw and immediately regrets his life decision as Ivan cranks down with all his force and pushes Hanlon down to his knees. The smaller man turns three shades of purple as he tries in vain to fight the Russian juggernaut bearing down upon him.
Before long, Hayes is in another bad position and his fingers start to turn odd colors as they poke out between the paws of The Russian Bear.
Richard Parker: What was he thinking trying to match strength with a guy nearly twice his size? Comrade Stanislav, even at sixty, is a man that knows no equal.
Nick Stuart: Comrade, eh? When did that start?
Richard Parker: Pretty much when he made Hayes Hanlon look like a plaything.
Nick Stuart: So the whole time then?
Richard Parker: Da.
Nick Stuart: Wow. Just. Wow.
Hayes screams and shakes his head in defiance as Timo asks him if he wants to quit. The pain looks to be absolutely searing, but he refuses to let go and before long he musters all his strength to plant one foot on the canvas. He pushes back with everything he has and starts to raise to his feet shakily.
The goliath Russian can’t believe it as Hanlon is battling back and before the smaller man can gain traction, he plants his feet, drops one of Hanlon’s hands, lifts the younger man with the hand still locked up, then finishes with a short arm clothesline that nearly takes Hayes out of his boots.
Nick Stuart: IRON CURTAIN! THAT MIGHT BE IT!
Richard Parker: That is the efficiency of Communism hard at work!
Ivan drops to the mat for the pin and Timo slides into place.
Ivan’s ring awareness shows rust as Hanlon’s foot reaches the ropes! Timo stops the count and points at the ropes even as Ivan protests to the referee. Alexie Ruslan fumes and screams to the referee and anyone who will listen about foul play. Fresh from a dressing down in irony, Timo warns him to keep away from the ring and turns back to attention.
Ivan tries to pick up Hayes and the young man seems to be in another universe at the moment. Hayes falters, falling to a knee, and Ivan forces him to his feet and showboats, raising his arm above his head, believing he is moments away from victory.
Hayes is clearly worse for the wear, yet he is just coherent enough to take another thudding blow to Ivan’s body while his arm can’t protect his side and the Bear winces, dropping Hayes long enough for Hayes to spit out a gob of blood and take another swing at Ivan’s body.
Nick Stuart: Hanlon is chopping the great oak down blow by blow it would seem!
Ivan is really favoring his ribs now, and Hanlon has definitely noticed. The sixty year old Russian is huffing and puffing more than he was at the beginning of the match. Hayes ducks under a clumsy grapple and grasps Ivan lifting him up…
And delivering a monstrous Belly to Belly suplex. The entire front row shudders from the impact of Ivan hitting the mat with ferocity. Before Hanlon can capitalize, Alexie is back on the mat and pulls something from his coat pocket. He snaps out a steel baton and tries to swing it at Hayes, only for the younger man to catch his hand and twist it, making him drop the baton.
The crowd is going ballistic as Hayes, who is suddenly wide-eyed, holds Alexie’s left hand and pops off with a series of powerful rights, putting flair behind each one. As Ruslan is dazed on the mat, Hayes lets go and spins his right arm up like Popeye before POW! He drops Alexie off the mat and out cold on the floor!
Nick Stuart: Alexei Ruslan getting his just desserts for his cheating ways!
Richard Parker: That’s debatable!
Nick Stuart: No, it isn’t!
Hayes has little time to celebrate as Ivan stalks behind him and wraps a suspender strap around his neck and drags him to the center of the ring. The younger man fights and grabs vainly at the strap. Timo steps in to issue a warning to the Russian for using his suspenders as a weapon, but is met with a hearty DYAHAHAHA!!! As he slowly untangles Hanlon and spins him around toward the ropes.
Ivan throws him into the ropes with a Russian Whip (it’s like an Irish Whip but you use Vodka instead of Bailey’s) and charges after him. Ivan tries for a lariat and Hayes ducks under. In so doing, Ivan shows his years and stumbles, hitting the ropes and tumbling over in a calamity of negative physics as the Russian hits the ground with a lack of impunity. Both Alexie and Ivan lay on the floor.
Nick Stuart: This is clearly not where the returning champion expected to be during this match!
Richard Parker: I don’t think he expected Hanlon to be more than a bloody speed bump for his T34 tank!
Nick Stuart: Hayes Hanlon is anything but a speed bump! This young man is the future of wrestling!
Ivan shakes the cobwebs loose as he stands up and rolls back in the ring slowly. Hayes stalks behind him as the Russian tries to get to his feet. Hayes Hanlon bends down and positions himself under the side of Ivan Stanislav’s torso.
Nick Stuart: He cannot be serious! Ivan is “billed” at four hundred pounds and that was during his prime!
Hayes lifts for everything he has and picks Ivan up across his shoulders in a Torture Rack. He trudges toward the corner, one foot in front of the other, struggling and shaking the entire time. As he gets to the corner, he tries to step up onto the first turnbuckle, but he fails and almost drops Stanislav.
The Event Horizon tries again, this time successfully climbing to the first rope. Wobbly, tired, bleeding a little from what appears to be a cut inside his mouth, Hayes ascends to the second rope with one foot, the lower rope shuddering as he does from his other foot as he tries to stabilize himself. Even as Ivan begins to figure out what is about to happen and struggle, the aptly named Home Run Hayes steps up with his second foot and shouts in pain as he pushes off with everything he has.
Flashes all over the arena go off as he leaps off, driving Ivan’s shoulder and neck into the mat with a Burning Hammer from the second rope! The entire ring shakes with a clamorous and resounding THOOM! as the force of the impact blows all the ring aprons up in the air.
The fans are going berserk! All the ropes continue to vibrate with stunning energy as Hayes crawls toward Ivan.
Nick Stuart: THE SUPER MASSIVE! I CANNOT BELIEVE I JUST SAW THAT HAPPEN! IVAN IS IN DEEP TROUBLE AND THE FANS ARE ON THEIR FEET!
Richard Parker: NO! PRAPORSCHIK STANISLAV!
Hayes falls down on top of Ivan and laboriously hooks his leg. Timo slides in for the cover. The fans count along with the referee…
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: Here is your winner by pinfall…HAAAAAAAYES HAAAAAAANLON!
The entire arena seems to crackle with energy as the ring has finally stopped shuddering and the fans clamor. Hayes stands in the ring with his hand being held up and before long he is met with a towering yet somewhat hunched figure in Ivan standing in front of him holding his ribs gingerly. The Russian Bear pauses for what seems like decades, but it only took a moment, and reaches out a paw.
Hayes looks down and nods. His mustache bristles with patriotism as he shakes the legends hand and holds it up to the crowd, who shows their appreciation.
Nick Stuart: What a match! That was one of the greatest finishes I’ve ever seen! I’ll be shocked if the ring wasn’t damaged structurally from that impact!
Richard Parker: It is classy of Hayes to acknowledge the better man at the end of the match too.
Nick Stuart: You know Hayes won right? That, by definition, makes him the better man tonight.
Richard Parker: I see that the propaganda has reached your ears as well.
Nick shakes his head in disbelief.
Nick Stuart: And on that terrible disappointment, it is time for UltraViolence to continue!
WHY, PAXTON, WHY?
Nick Stuart: We’re just about ready for Brandon Youngblood vs. Nova, but first let’s go backstage to Matt Mills who is trying to catch up with Paxton Ray after his devastating attack on his tag partner earlier tonight.
We’re backstage now, and Matt Mills holds a microphone. His tone is solemn.
Matt Mills: Thanks, Nick. I came by the Fighting For Nora locker room earlier and found it cleared out. After investigating further I caught up with Killean Sirrajin, Executive Vice President of Talent Relations. I have him here now.
The camera pans out to reveal Sirrajin, who looks down at Mills patiently.
Matt Mills: Mr. Sirrajin, thanks for taking the time. Now, I understand you were the last person to see Paxton Ray tonight.
Killean Sirrajin: I was, Matt. I came here and upon orders of Lindsay Troy, who is at the hospital with Rhine, I asked Paxton to leave.
Matt Mills: And did you ask him why? Why he did what he did?
Killean Sirrajin: I didn’t. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no motive that can excuse him for what he did. Regardless of why, his presence is not welcome here anymore tonight.
Matt Mills: And what about going forward? What is Paxton Ray’s future in PRIME?
Killean finally starts to look annoyed with Mills. Took him long enough.
Killean Sirrajin: I may be acting for Lindsay Troy for the rest of the evening, but I’m not making those sorts of decisions. We’ll talk about it in the coming weeks and figure out what to do next. Now, if you’ll excuse me.
Killean walks away, leaving Mills to look at the camera.
Matt Mills: Back to you guys.
BRANDON YOUNGBLOOD vs. NOVA
Referee Elvis Nixon stands in the ring next to Vince Howard as we prepare for the next match.
Nick Stuart: We’ve got a real Big Fight Feel match coming up next, partner – two bonafide PRIME legends, two men with decades of history, two men with everything to prove are squaring off next…the former Universal Champ, Brandon Youngblood, taking on The Risen Star, Nova!
Richard Parker: What a history these two men share, Nick. For our OG fans, these two squared off in 2005 for the 5 Star Championship in an all-timer of a match, which saw Youngblood come out on top. Flash forward a mere month and a half later, they crossed paths again in a six-pack Turmoil Elimination Match in which Youngblood nearly CRIPPLED Nova. And do you remember the stipulation?
Nick Stuart: I don’t have to guess, I remember it well – it was for the number one contendership to the Universal Championship.
Richard Parker: Time heals many wounds, but it will be VERY interesting to see what Youngblood vs Nova in 2022 looks like. Tonight’s fight may not be for the number one contendership, but it’s hard to imagine the winner of this one not climbing near the top of the ladder right away!
Nick Stuart: A massive match with a TON on the line, let’s take it to the ring!
The lights cut out in the arena, and a stormy sky appears on the video screen.
As thunder booms over the speakers and lightning lights up the darkened clouds on-screen, George Clinton’s voice can be heard speaking in soft, reverberating tones.
“Mother Earth is pregnant for the third time…for y’all have knocked her up. I have tasted the maggots in the mind of the universe; but I was not offended, for I knew I had to rise above it all…or drown in my own shit.”
The stormy sky fades, replaced by a field of stars. One of the stars shoots across the screen, and as the field of stars comes together to form the word “NOVA,” Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain” lilts over the PA system.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, the following contest is scheduled for ONE FALL! Introducing first, from PARTS UNKNOWN, weighing in at two hundred forty pounds…NOOOOOOOOOVAAAAAAAAAAA!!
The crowd roars its approval. At this moment, a spotlight hits the entrance ramp where Nova is knelt, one fist raised in the air. The smoke wafting up from the cigarette hanging out of his mouth swirls iridescently under the hot glare of the spotlight. After a moment, the Risen Star climbs to his feet and makes his way down to the ring, rolling under the bottom rope before standing and flicking his cigarette away.
The lights come up.
And now, the second participant in one of the most anticipated rematches in PRIME’s history. Seventeen years in the making.
BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD
SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE
LET THE GALAXY BURN
From the very start of Bloodsport (World Domination) by HEALTH, Brandon Youngblood surges from the curtain, the fans in the MGM Grand Garden Arena exploding in a massive ovation. Through the blinding crimson and white strobing light cutting through the darkness of the arena, the Tower of Babel powerwalks, his eyes trained to the ring, toward Nova. His expression only offers an oppressive scowl of intensity.
Nick Stuart: Listen to this crowd!
Richard Parker: I’ve been waiting for this for what seems like forever.
Nick Stuart: The Dream Match. We never thought we’d see it again. And we never thought it would be under these circumstances. These two…no championship on the line…no hatreds…a mutual respect. A demand to bring the best out of one and other as they look to face their own personal challenges moving forward.
Richard Parker: And the way there is through each other. This is going to be good!
His shoulders sway with the bravado of his BMF walk. The Hall of Famer is quick down the ramp, his gait swinging him around the arena floor, to the ring steps. There is no slowdown as the Universal Champion stomps his way up the steps and steps into the ring. Once inside, he begins pacing around the outside perimeter of the ring, his eyes locked on Nova the entire time, all as Vince Howard makes his announcement.
Vince Howard: Hailing from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada… weighing in at 280 pounds… he is the former Universal Champion, a three time 5-Star Champion, the 2009 Jewel In The Crown, PRIME Hall of Famer, winner of the Almasy Invitational…the LAAAAAAAAST! DIIIIIIAMOND! BRAAAAAAAANDON! YOUNGBLOOD!
The fans are on their feet and roaring in applause at the sight of these two gladiators sharing a ring. Both Nova and Youngblood take a moment to look into the crowd and soak in the love before the hard reality before them sets in.
Nick Stuart: Two surefire hall-of-famers, partner.
Richard Parker: Nova would probably be in the Hall of Stoners too, but I digress – there’s a reason these two had bounties on their heads in the Almasy tournament. They’re Rushmore-worthy.
Youngblood is the first to stop absorbing the love as he begins circling his opponent – Nova, catching on, circles the ring as well. Both men’s arms are raised defensively, and finally to much crowd anticipation they lock up in a strong collar-and-elbow. Both look to use their power to gain an advantage, twisting and turning on each other, before Youngblood’s size advantage becomes the deciding factor as he presses Nova into a corner. Referee Nixon approaches to start a count, but before he can even get to two, Youngblood raises his hands and takes a step back out of respect – only for Nova to launch himself forward and gain side headlock control!
Nova throws Youngblood over by the head and goes for a rear chinlock, only for Youngblood to reach over and launch Nova forward by the head and onto the mat. Youngblood attempts to exert some pressure grappling from a dominant position, hands interlocked, only for Nova to kip up to a vertical base. Youngblood breaks the grip first and launches a hellacious CHOP! Nova shakes it out and responds with a BIG ASS LARIAT that sends Youngblood to the floor! He goes for the cover, but Youngblood kicks out before Nixon can slap his hand to the mat even once.
Nick Stuart: Technical exchanges to start things off!
Richard Parker: That’s the experience shining through, neither man wants to make the first big mistake!
Both men scramble up to their feet with Youngblood being the first up – he wraps his arms around Nova’s waist and HEAVES – Belly to Belly suplex! A quick cover is once again averted before a one count. Nova shoots behind Youngblood, then in front in a dazzling display of technical prowess – T-Bone Suplex! Youngblood is planted and covered once again – one and a half count!
Youngblood gets to a knee and before going fully vertical, bull-rushes Nova into the ropes, using his massive frame to press into his ribcage. A few shoulder-drives into the stomach later, Youngblood whips Nova across the ring into the ropes – as Nova bounces back, Youngblood simply presses forward and hits his opponent with a charging headbutt! Another cover, another quick kick out.
Both men rise to their feet and decide to take some space between each other as the fans rise to their feet in appreciation for the effort.
Nick Stuart: I don’t know about you, partner – but after that exchange, it’s hard to believe these men are both north of 40, both two decades into their careers. They’re really showing the spark of wrestlers half their age!
Richard Parker: Spark, sure, but veteran experience too – neither man is allowing the other to sustain a significant advantage in this stage of the match.
The Last Diamond charges forward and clinches his opponent, pressing Nova into the corner. Before Nixon can intervene, Youngblood throws a heavy chop into Nova’s chest; he follows it up with a chop to Nova’s throat, which elicits some OOOOOOHs from the crowd. Nixon intervenes and tries admonishing the former Universal Champ, only for him to be unbothered and swing for a third chop into Nova’s face – Nova ducks! He repositions himself and shoves Youngblood into the corner! After a few strikes to the head, Nova leaps surprisingly high – calf kick to Youngblood’s head! He falls to a knee! Nova runs back into the ropes to gain momentum, returns, charges – DYING STAR DROP TO YOUNGBLOOD! A DEEP cover!
Nick Stuart: Nova looking to press his advantage here!
Indeed, the grizzled vet throws Youngblood into the ropes, and on his return, launches a kick forward and connects with the Kitchen Sink! An immediate mount follows and Nova rains down strikes to the prone Youngblood! The crowd roars, as the man that many perceived to be the underdog going into this match looks to continue applying pressure!
Richard Parker: He’s beating Youngblood like he owes him money!
Nick Stuart: A little class, partner?
Richard Parker: What?? Youngblood probably DOES owe him money! Past hospital bills? Parking tickets? Who knows!
Referee Nixon begins a count and Nova is finally forced to dismount. Youngblood is staggering at this point, and Nova catches him – clutching both arms, he absolutely SPIKES the former champ with a Double-arm DDT! Another cover!
Nick Stuart: Youngblood looks to be in the deep waters first, partner!
Richard Parker: Indeed, but if any active PRIME wrestler knows how to swim in these waters, it’s Youngblood!
Nova takes a moment to gather his breath after such an intense flurry of offense – seeing an opening, Youngblood lurches forward and throws a hard elbow in to Nova’s mush! Another elbow! Another! He sends Nova into the ropes – Nova bounces back…and Youngblood teaches us the name of a major city in Poland…
The most BRUTAL and stiff knife-edged chop in the biz literally echoes throughout the arena, and the camera pans to several fans who cringe and clutch at their own sternums out of instinct! Perhaps guessing that Nova would kick out if he covered here, Youngblood instead picks up his fallen opponent and takes a few moments to throw him hither and yon…
Belly to Belly Suplex!
Snap Vertical Suplex!
Another German Suplex!
Youngblood then applies a rear chinlock to Nova, looking to hinder his breathing further. For his part, Nova looks pretty gassed.
Nick Stuart: What a veteran move here, partner!
Richard Parker: “You can’t fight if you can’t breathe” – Sun Tzu, 2022!
Nick Stuart: …2022? You sure about that one?
Richard Parker: Let me smother you for a minute and you tell me, how about that?
Seeing Nova struggle, the fans clap in rhythm, willing with every fiber of their being for the gladiator to keep the fight up. After a few moments, he gets to one knee – then a foot and a knee – then TWO FEET. Back elbow from Nova – another – ANOTHER! The grip is released! Nova decides it’s his turn and switches behind Youngblood…
Another German Suplex!
ANOTHER German Suplex!
…FUCKING ANOTHER GERMAN SUPLEX!
Both men are pulling deep to regain their air on the mat, but Nova’s wristlock around Youngblood’s waist remains strong. He’s determined, he’s fighting, he’s sure he needs to do something Youngblood didn’t do.
Nick Stuart: Youngblood hit Nova with four suplexes, then Nova hit Youngblood with four of his own…but he’s determined to go for five!
Richard Parker: Throw a man as much as you want, all that matters is the one two three, partner! You can’t let yourself get married to this stuff!
But Nova can’t hear Richard Parker…or if he can, he decides it’s surely bullshit. It’s important to him that he shows just exactly where he should stand in the pecking order of PRIME…whether his ranking or his record or his recent dark history shows it, he NEEDS to show these people just what he stands for. And so, his hands remain locked. His legs find a way to get vertical. His lungs find a way to breathe deeply…and his hips find a way to pop.
Bridging German Suplex!
Both men are down as the crowd once again rises to their feet in admiration of both competitors. Nova’s face is that of a man who might have shot his last bullet, Youngblood’s, the face of a man who can’t take too many more. Referee Nixon begins a count in order to get one or both men to their feet…at four, Nova stirs. At five, Youngblood rolls to his stomach. At six, both men technically have the soles of their shoes on their mat – when Youngblood LUNGES forward!
Nick Stuart: EUGH, that was a NASTY strike!
With Nova dazed, Youngblood locks his opponent’s arms, bends down, and lifts –
Youngblood wastes no time and top mounts Nova, throwing clubbering elbow strikes! Nova raises his arms to cover up, but some strikes definitely punch through his defense – including one particular rough strike to the temple that leads to Nova rolling away and clutching his eye.
Richard Parker: Looks like potatoes are on the menu tonight, partner!
Referee Nixon takes a moment to examine Nova as he continues to clutch his eye. Youngblood, for his part, chooses to respect his opponent and give him space…for a time. After a quick examination becomes twenty seconds of stalling, Youngblood steps forward to interject. Nixon, sensing his approach, leaves Nova to try to maintain their space – but before he can say word one, Nova launches forward with a sharp elbow into Youngblood’s nose!
Nick Stuart: What a strike! Fans will remember what Phil Atken did to that nose not long ago!
Richard Parker: It’s a literal bullseye, Parker, and surgically repaired or not, it’s as good a target as any!
Youngblood stumbles back and checks his nostrils for blood, luckily finding none – but in the moments that pass, Nova lurches forward and sends Youngblood ass-over-teakettle with a MASSIVE lariat! He covers!
Both men are exhausted on the mat, reaching deep for air, as the crowd showers them with applause and adulation.
Nick Stuart: What a battle!
Richard Parker: What a WAR! The old guard of PRIME showing what it means to dig deep!
First to stir is Nova, and soon to follow is Youngblood…but both men drop to a knee. Turns out, veterans know how to hit VERY HARD, and it’s also not so easy to get up when you’ve got this many miles on you. It takes time – conscious, heavy time – but both men are able to get to their feet and look into each other’s eyes across the ring from each other. A lot of historical weight seems to both keep them vertical and keep them from acting too quickly. The fans, already cheering, are now on their feet. They know where we are in this fight.
Something’s gotta give. And Youngblood believes Nova will give first. He pursues his opponent as if he was a wounded deer, looking to trap one arm, and indeed he is able to grapple Nova into a Half Nelson…as he attempts to pop his hips to lift him into a trademark Half Nelson Suplex, Nova blocks it by wrapping his left leg around Youngblood’s! Another lurching lift attempt, another block! Finally, Nova is able to reverse the momentum and wrap one arm, then another – DOUBLE ARM DDT ATTEMPTED – Youngblood reverses! Back body drop – Nova lands on his feet! Kick to the midsection – double arms hooked AGAIN – Youngblood twists out AGAIN! Russian legsweep to Nova! Nova kicks out quickly, throws some heavy strikes into Youngblood’s cranium, and hoos the arms for a third time – DOUBLE ARM DDT CONNECTS! Youngblood is SPLATTED!
THRE-NO!!! Youngblood kicks out!
Nick Stuart: TWO POINT NINE NINE!
Nova wastes absolutely no time as he scampers quickly to the top rope!
Richard Parker: What’s he doing up THERE??
Nick Stuart: Oh no, he’s turning his back on Youngblood, what is he THINKING??
He’s thinking about 2005. He’s thinking about what could have been.
He’s thinking about what he can reclaim, seventeen years later.
Nova, back turned to his opponent, leaps high into the air – moonsaulting – before thrusting an elbow forward…
Nick Stuart: CTRL+ALT+1337?!?!?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!
Unbelievably, Nova’s elbow connects FLUSH into Youngblood’s sternum – and instead of going for a pin, he looks out to the crowd. He spots a fan holding up a sign saying “WE REMEMBER TROPICAL TURMOIL”, and the camera catches it and lingers.
Richard Parker: Tropical Turmoil – in 2005, Youngblood nearly ended Nova’s LIFE when he went for a Shooting Star Press! SURELY he’s not thinking about THAT, is he??
Before Parker can even get the whole sentence out, Nova’s back on the top rope. It’s clear that history is on his mind.
You can’t fix every past mistake – some things live with you forever, they’ll define you, and they’ll make you the person you are forever. For good and for bad. For sinner and for saint. For convicted drug dealer and for Universal Champion.
But what if.
What if you could rewrite the past…
Nova might wonder too.
And he hits the move he COULDN’T hit at Tropical Turmoil 2005…
Nick Stuart: SHOOTING! STAR! PRESS!
Richard Parker: I can’t believe it!! The cover!
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: Here is your winner! NOOOOOOOOOOVAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
Nick Stuart: I am SHOCKED!
Richard Parker: NOVA DID IT! HE REALLY DID IT!
Nick Stuart: MY GOD! MY GOD!
The PRIMEates are UNGLUED at the result. Nova takes a few moments to register what the hell he just did – after a beat, Youngblood is able to recollect himself and get to a knee. He locks eyes with the Man Who Made Good tonight. Nova, for his part, checks on Youngblood to make sure he’s not seriously hurt. The two men lock arms in the kind of gladiatorial embrace only war-sharing wrestlers could share. Youngblood, for his part, raises Nova’s arm in victory and gives an honorary point to his torso.
Nick Stuart: I don’t feel comfortable calling this an upset given Nova’s legacy, but I think we all assumed this was going to go Youngblood’s way tonight!
Richard Parker: Never discount the weight of the past, partner.
We cut to black.
PRIMEPORIUM: BUY OUR SHIT!
FANCY MEETING YOU HERE
The parking garage at the MGM Grand. Yep, we’re here again.
Oh look, there’s the FLAMBOrghini. After repairs, it’s looking like the high-performance, envy-inspiring machine it has always been.
Oh look, there’s FLAMBERGE. He’s…looking pretty rough. His neck is held at an odd angle, because holding it straight up hurts too much. Every step brings a fresh grimace to his face. His bag hangs loosely by his right side; his arm lacking the strength to sling it over his shoulder.
He walks gingerly toward his car. He probably shouldn’t be on his feet yet, and the medics even told him to wait, but he couldn’t stand being in the building anymore. Not with that clean-cut, white-bread, holier-than-thou douchebag.
He had almost reached the FLAMBOrghini when he froze. The last few times he’s made this trip, it has ended in disaster, either for himself or his car. Naturally, this has made him a lot more cautious.
Good thing, too, as he might not have heard the footsteps otherwise.
They are uneven, almost shambling, but definitely coming toward him from the darkness. FLAMBERGE, of course, assumes the worst.
FLAMBERGE: Mon Dieu. Il vaut mieux que ce ne soit plus ce morceau de merde.
And sure enough, it is that morceau de merde again. The footsteps get closer, and as he steps into the light, we see that they belong to Nate Colton. He looks just as bad as FLAMBO, if not worse; there are several pronounced bruises on his face and arms, and his jaw is slightly swollen. His voice is barely above a whisper, thanks to all the choke holds he was locked in.
Nate Colton: We gotta stop meeting like this.
FLAMBERGE lets his bag fall to the cement, and takes a defensive stance…or, at least, tries to. Colton attempts to do the same, but ends up leaning on a nearby cement pillar.
Nate Colton: Believe it or not, I’m just dropping off my gear; gonna go back in and watch the rest of the show. I’d have been just fine with not seeing you again tonight. But since we’re both here, I might as well do one more thing. I promised to give you somethin’, and I’m a man of my word.
FLAMBERGE: I want nothing from you.
Nate Colton: Too bad, you’re getting it anyway.
Colton holds out his right hand and opens his fist…and as dismissive as FLAMBERGE is, he still takes a glance to see what Nate Colton is holding.
Which, it turns out, is nothing. Instead, Colton simply extends his arm toward the man he fought with so bitterly, just a few hours before.
And there in Nathan’s empty hand, we see what he had promised to give FLAMBERGE tonight. The thing that the Glue Factory protégé had received so little of, from so many people in his life.
Nate Colton: That was a hell of a fight, man.
FLAMBERGE is stunned – maybe just as much by the open hand as much as his inability to come up with some snarky comment, some hateful barb, even a half-hearted slap to the face.
FLAMBERGE is a façade that’s held firm from the moment he first stepped foot in a wrestling ring, and really, from the moment his father finally turned into the rage machine we all know today…but something’s cracking here. Maybe Nate Colton beat it out of him, maybe he’s just too emotionally drained from the ten years he’s lived in the past few months…but for the first time, PRIME sees something in his eye if only for only a second or two.
We see the heart Julien Lavigne’s mother always knew was there.
He lifts his hand for a moment, but before he can extend it – his fist closes. His eyes return to FLAMBO Mode. He knows he can’t taunt this man who is his equal, if not more. He knows his fighting spirit is spent, at least for tonight. He holds his closed fist inches away from Colton’s extended hand, and after trembling for a moment, withdraws.
He doesn’t have it in him to shake hands. Not yet. He knows this night, this fight, was only the first chapter of a story that may one day come to define something much, much bigger than either man could imagine now…and so he lowers his hand and turns his back on Colton.
FLAMBERGE walks toward his car, not bothering to look back at his opponent. But he does pause long enough to say…
FLAMBERGE: La prochaine fois.
And though Nate Colton doesn’t speak a lick of French, he’s got a pretty good idea of what was just said. He smiles (as best he can) and nods (as best he can.)
Nate Colton: Next time.
FIVE STAR TITLE: REZIN (C) vs. GREAT SCOTT
“Born for Greatness” plays over the sound system here in the Grand, but after recent events we see a changed man making his way out, a new look and attitude as GREAT SCOTT taunts fans on his way toward the ring. GREAT BEAR, for his part, is still seemingly rocking out to the music playing through his sweet Beats by Dre headphones, but the crowd is none too pleased with LARGE DADDY SCOTT, who couldn’t care less about their opinions as he rocks a championship belt that we probably shouldn’t mention further.
SCOTT and his BEAR (and presumably his glare, for that matter) arrive at ringside, continuing to taunt the booing fans with a flex of his arms as he enters the ring ready for this match.
The lights slowly dim to black, theater-style. After a moment, solid RED fills the PRIMEView, leaving the MGM Grand Garden Arena awash in crimson light. Music comes through the PA.
It’s the theme to Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.
Nick Stuart: Oh boy, what’s this now?
Richard Parker: Looks like someone really ran with the whole “UltraViolence” thing.
From the red, we fade to the image of the Five Star Champion REZIN.
Bound within a straight jacket. Clamps holding his eyelids open.
He’s strapped into a chair at the front of a theater. Far in the back, several faceless scientists and business-types sit silently in the shadows, while a projector.
Rezin: …oh no… NO… NO-NO-NO! Please, turn it off! Turn it OFF!
Rezin’s POV: Projected on the screen are clips from High Octane Wrestling’s recent broadcast of CHAOS 009.
Rezin: STOP! PLEASE! I BEG YOU! TURN IT OFF!! It’s HORRIBLE!! This is MADNESS!! This is TORTURE!! It’s a SIN! A SIN! A SIN, I TELL YOU!
Scott Stevens tongues a Bible and babbles incoherently about GAWD ‘n’ TEXUS. Rezin thrashes violently from within his straightjacket.
Rezin: CHRIST ON A POLE, THIS IS LIKE THE MOST BORING SHIT I’VE EVER SEEN!! HOW DOES THIS EVEN PASS AS WRESTLING?!
Jace Parker Davidson appears on the screen and cuts a long, ambling promo that covers mostly nothing while still somehow being heavy on self-adulation. Rezin is frothin uncontrollably from the mouth.
Rezin: WHO the–WHAT the–GAAHH, NOTHING MAKES SENSE!! WHY DOES THE OWNER LOOK LIKE SANTA CLAUS?!
Finally, GREAT SCOTT stands triumphant in the ring with the HOTv Title hoisted over his head after a successful defense. Rezin continues to desperately jerk and fight against his restraints like a man ready to gnaw his own leg off if it meant getting away from watching this.
Rezin: AARRGH I CAN’T TAKE ANYMORE!! SOMEBUDDY SCOOP OUT MY EYES WITH MELON BALLERS!! TILLINGHAST SAVE ME!!
As if saying the magic word…
The bulb in the projector suddenly bursts. Everything goes black. In the dark, the sound of bindings being broken can be heard. We get one more visual on the PRIMEView: an empty straightjacket being discarded onto the floor…
Richard Parker: Oh no, he’s LOOSE!
Ministry’s cover of “Search and Destroy” begins to riff over the PA, cueing a loud cheer from the capacity crowd of PRIMEates. When the lights come on, the live cam is zoomed in tight on the face of the Escape Artist, now freed and presently here in the arena, grinning murderously back at us from beneath the brim of a bowler hat.
WELL I’M A STREET-WALKIN’ CHEETAH WITH A HEART FULL OF NAPALM!
WELL I’M THE RUNAWAY SON OF THE NUCLEAR A-BOMB!
The crowd packed within the MGM Grand Garden arena roars deafeningly around him. The view slowly and methodically pulls back with meticulous, deliberate pacing. The dramatically slow zoom eventually pulls back far enough to reveal the couch he’s sitting on, the symmetrical arrangement of suggestively posed Grim Reaper mannequins, and the scores of cheering fans lined up against the rampway barricades juxtaposed with the stillness of the scene.
Its stage exactly like the opening shot to Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.
I AM THE WORLD’S FORGOTTEN BOY!
THE ONE WHO SEARCHES AND DESTROYS!
Rezin keeps staring straight ahead, never breaking eye contact with the camera, feet propped up on a crab-walking Angel of Death, Five Star Championship draped over his shoulder, Rocko Daymon’s cane leaning nearby, massive spliff burning in his hand. He’s in a world of his own, despite the very real one around him screaming his name.
Nick Stuart: Hats off to the props department for setting all… this up.
Richard Parker: Yeah, but all these mannequins and no El Hijo del Super Cool Guy? Somebody dropped the ball.
After a beat, Rezin finally rises up, plucks up the cane, and descends a few paces down the rampway. He pauses for a moment longer to study the World’s Greatest SCOTT standing ready in the ring, furiously glaring back.
HONEY GOTTA HELP ME PLEASE!
SOMEBODY GOTTA SAVE MY SOUL!
BABY DETONATE FOR ME!
Resting the cane over his shoulder, he ambles over to one of the robed statues situated on a pedestal and leaning precariously over. After he presses a button, milk begins to pour out from the place where milk is made into a waiting glass held in his hand. Only the milk is BLACK.
Richard Parker: Ugh… someone better check the date on those Grim Reapers. I think they’re expired.
As soon as the glass is filled, Rezin toasts the challenger waiting for him in the ring… and CHUGS IT!
Through the glass, we can see the ebon laiche steadily disappearing down his throat, sending trails of dark liquid running down the sides of his beard. In seconds, it runs empty.
LOOK OUT HONEY CAUSE I’M USIN’ TECHNOLOGY!
AND I AIN’T GOT NO TIME TO MAKE NO APOLOGY!
His eyes seem to grow wider. As does his grin. Finally filled up on Moloko Plus, he’s ready for a bit of the old ULTRAVIOLENCE!
SOUL RADIATION IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT!
LOVE IN THE MIDDLE OF A FIREFIGHT!
The empty glass goes over his shoulder and shatters on the stage. The bowler hat goes into the crowd. The spliff goes into his mouth. Horns go into the air. And then…
A massive (and for once, well-timed) mushroom cloud pyro explodes on the stage, inciting yet another roar from the crowd. Indulging in the love from the fans he fought hard to win, over, Rezin tucks the cane under his arm and continues down the rampway to–
Unexpectedly, then the mannequin falls onto his head, apparently shaken loose on its pedestal by the pyro. He loses his balance and trips over another.
Then another falls over. And another.
Grim Reapers are suddenly toppling, breaking apart, being crashed into left and right. The entire meticulous display is collapsing around the Goat Bastard as he begins tumbling the rest of the way down the incline.
Nick Stuart: Oh boy, here we go…
HONEY GOTTA STRIKE ME BLIND!
SOMEBODY GOTTA SAVE MY SOUL!
BABY PENETRATE MY MIND!
Soon, a black and white cascade of mannequin limbs careens down the rampway, with the Five Star Champion unwittingly caught up in the avalanche. He finally ends up in a pile of arms, legs, torsos, heads, and black shrouds at ringside.
Richard Parker: Five bucks, Nick! Pay up!
Nick Stuart: Ugh…
Rezin scrambles up from the clutter of mannequin parts, pulling a stray hand out of his pants for good measure. For a moment, he looks positively peeved. Yet another grand Pay Per View entrance… ruined. Then he shrugs and laughs it off. Whaddya gonna do, right?
AND I’M THE WORLD’S FORGOTTEN BOY!
THE ONE WHO’S SEARCHIN’, SEARCHIN’ TO DESTROY!
Readjusting the belt on his shoulder, he hops up to the apron and scales the ropes. At his literal and metaphorical HIGHEST point, he holds the Five Star Championship over his head, basking in the adulatation and flash photography.
Nick Stuart: Few would have expected the lowly Goat Bastard would ascend to such heights when he first arrived in PRIME, but against all odds, “The Escape Artist” Rezin has climbed the ranks and established himself as Five Star Champion to be remembered!
Richard Parker: Let this be a lesson, boys and girls: if you CHEAT, then people will eventually like you!
Nick Stuart: I think it’s a bit more nuanced than that, partner…
Rezin REZINSAULTS his way from the top rope into the ring and immediately comes nose to nose with GREAT SCOTT. Champion and challenger’s incessant trash talk is almost loud enough to be heard over the thundering audience, but the official quickly separates them and sends them to their corners.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, the following contest is scheduled for one fall, with a sixty-minute time limit! And it is for… THE FIVE STAR CHAMPIONSHIP OF PRIME!
The crowd roasts its approval as the stakes sink in for this long-awaited rematch.
Vince Howard: INTRODUCING THE CHALLENGER! Accompanied by GREAT BEAR, he stands at six-foot-one, and weighed in tonight at two-hundred seventy-six pounds! From the Greater Metro Area of Great Falls, Montana, this is… GREAT! SCOOOOOOOOOOOOTTTTTT!!!
The crowd jeers the turncoat, but GREAT SCOTT just sneers at them.
Vince Howard: And his opponent! Standing five-foot-ten, weighing in this evening at two-hundred-five pounds! He is the CURRENT! REIGING! AND DEFENDING! FIVE STAR CHAMPION OF PRIME! rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrREZIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIN!
The PRIME faithful are abuzz as the Five Star Champion and his opponent stand nose-to-nose, staring each other dead in the eye.
Nick Stuart: The last time these two men faced each other in the ring, Great Scott was the fan-favorite and Rezin was the unruly rulebreaker. This time though, Rezin is the one wearing the white hat, while Scott has turned his back on the fans!
Richard Parker: Well Nicky, that just means Great Scott’s realized he doesn’t need this crowd anymore and has developed that killer’s edge to win!
Nick Stuart: It was at ReVival 12 that these two last met, and it was at ReVival 12 that Rezin defended his Five Star title AND scored the first blow to Great Scott’s undefeated record in PRIME! Will the champion retain again, or is the new GREAT SCOTT bound to raise the Five Star Title tonight?
The wrestlers don’t move an inch as the buzz from the crowd only intensifies. After a long staredown, GREAT SCOTT makes the first move with a wild haymaker, which Rezin manages to duck, running to the ropes and rebounding with a Cloven Hoof Kick that knocks his challenger between the ropes and onto the floor!
Nick Stuart: Rezin seems to see an opportunity, as he bounces off the ropes again, and-
Rezin darts between the ropes, and NAILS GREAT SCOTT with a picture-perfect bullet tope, and sends Scott ROLLING on the floor and up the entrance aisle! Rezin scrambles to his feet, and throws his hands up while the crowd roars its approval!
Richard Parker: Playing to the crowd’s a new thing for Rezin, you think that could be his downfall?
The Five Star Champion manages to get a grip on his scrambling challenger, pulling him back to his feet and landing a few kicks to the ribs along the way, before CHUCKING him back under the ropes and back into the ring!
Nick Stuart: I don’t know, but for now it looks like he’s got a head full of steam! Rezin lining up a few more of those martial arts-influenced kicks to Scott’s chest and ribs, which will surely frustrate that power-based offense of Scott’s!
Rezin keeps up on the offensive, pulling Scott up by his hair, before lighting him up with a series of forearms to the face, and whipping him across the ring…
Only to eat a hard clothesline from GREAT SCOTT! The challenger follows up with a HARD elbowdrop to Rezin’s chest, before covering for the pin!
Richard Parker: Great strategy by GREAT SCOTT, Nicky, fluster the champ by forcing him to move and exert himself!
Richard says this as Rezin kicks out before Ashley Barlow even gets to the mat to count, but it is clear that GREAT SCOTT is not even close to finished, as he FORCEFULLY yanks Rezin back up to a standing position, before hooking Rezin up and raising him up HIGH in a vertical suplex position!
Richard Parker: CLASSIC way to use that God-given strength to your advantage right there, forcing all the blood to rush down from the champ’s head! Not that Rezin has much of a brain for that blood to go to, but still.
GREAT SCOTT DROPS to the mat, leaving Rezin a stumbling mess prone on the mat! GREAT SCOTT gets back to work and pulls Rezin back up, ramming him head-first into the nearby turnbuckle and sending him reeling with a leap backwards and a flop in the center of the ring!
Nick Stuart: GREAT SCOTT seeing a key opening here! He locks the Five Star Champion’s head and arms for the SCOTAGREE…
Rezin, however, has other plans, as he drops to his own knees with enough force to break the challenger’s grip on his arms, and hastily crawl between Scott’s legs, before rising up and running the ropes. GREAT SCOTT bends over, looking between his legs just in time to eat a low dropkick between the legs and to the face, which sends SCOTT’s head back up and down with the rest of him! Rezin sits up, nodding with a huge grin ear-to-ear, before going back to the offensive, stomping on the ribs of GREAT SCOTT.
Richard Parker: Look at this phony Rezin! He acts like he’s turned over a new leaf, but he’s still roughhousing like nothing’s changed! Complete fraud!
As Richard goes on his tirade, Rezin drops the leg across GREAT SCOTT’s throat, before covering over for a quick pin.
GREAT SCOTT manages to kickout, but Rezin is not discouraged, as he charges up the turnbuckle and awaits his challenger to get to his feet!
Nick Stuart: Could this be the REZINRANA?!
Scott manages to rise to his feet and shamble his way towards Rezin, who takes the leap off the turnbuckle!
Richard Parker: GREAT SCOUTING, GREAT SCOTT!
Rezin flipped off the corner for an attempt at the Rezinrana, but Scott was able to catch him in mid-air, and PLANT him to the mat with the Great Scott Bomb! GREAT SCOTT makes the cover as Ashley Barlow rushes in to count!
Rezin gets a shoulder up!
Nick Stuart: We almost had a NEW Five Star Champion!
GREAT SCOTT soaks in the boos, as he gets to his feet and IMMEDIATELY drops another elbow, before dragging Rezin back up and dropping him down with a thunderous scoop slam! He taunts the crowd again, and keeps on soaking in the jeers.
Richard Parker: You gotta hand it to Scott, he has shown a RUTHLESS side to him since his first match with Rezin at ReVival 12, and it has helped him get back to this point!
Nick Stuart: Yeah, and I’m sure Melvin Beauregard’s decree was just for show.
As Rezin starts to stir, GREAT SCOTT gets back to work, driving the champion down with a release German suplex!
Richard Parker: No bridge, all impact, baby!
Rezin is once again loopy, landing on his feet after the impact of that throw made him bounce! He leans on the ropes and tries to catch his bearings, but GREAT SCOTT rushes forth and clotheslines him over the top rope and out of the ring!
Richard Parker: And the champ gets dumped out like yesterday’s garbage!
Nick Stuart: But GREAT SCOTT needs to beat him in the ring to win the title!
GREAT SCOTT rolls out of the ring, as Ashley Barlow starts the count!
GREAT SCOTT laughs with mirth, as he shoves the Five Star Champion into the apron, and rams his shoulder into the champ’s ribs a few times!
Scott peels Rezin away, only to ram his face right onto the edge of the ring!
He does it again, this time right into the nearest ring post, sending the champ flying into the guardrail.
The challenger whips Rezin HARD into the apron, before rolling him back under the ropes and following suit!
Richard Parker: You’re right about being in the ring to win the belt, but ain’t nothin’ wrong with doing a little extra damage on the outside!
GREAT SCOTT mean-mugs the crowd once again, as he pulls Rezin back to his feet and whips him into the corner…
Nick Stuart: REZINSAULT!
Rezin managed to run up the turnbuckle and surprise the challenger with a Rezinsault, body-block style! The Five Star Champion is on his second wind, and he is AMPED.
As GREAT SCOTT gets to his feet, he is immediately greeted by a cross body for the cover!
No, GREAT SCOTT kicks out!
Nick Stuart: The champ is making a comeback!
Rezin is pumped, and bounces off the ropes again, nailing GREAT SCOTT with a classic Kitchen Sink this time, before bounding off again and catching the challenger with a Chaos Driver leaping flip neckbreaker!
Richard Parker: I don’t like the way this is going for Scott, Nicky!
Rezin slowly gets up, slapping the mat to rally the crowd, and as GREAT SCOTT rises, the champ lines up for another…
Nick Stuart: CLOVEN HOOF!
Richard Parker: Not quite, Nicky!
GREAT SCOTT catches Rezin, and haphazardly CHUCKS him into the corner, before hoisting him onto the top rope and signaling for the SCOTTACANRANA!
Nick Stuart: This could be it!
GREAT SCOTT climbs up, and takes the champion down…
Nick Stuart: NO!
…but Rezin manages to hang onto SCOTT as he comes down, and takes him down with a sunset flip! Ashley Barlow rushes to count, and GREAT SCOTT is flailing his legs!
DING DING DING!
Vince Howard: Here is your winner… and STILL! FIVE STAR CHAMPION OF PRIME! rrrrrrrrREZIN!
Rezin slides out of the ring and snatches the Five Star Title from the timekeeper. He leans back against the barricade, exhausted, and holds it high into the air as UltraViolence goes to commercial.
The power of a slow lead soundtrack.
A voice that speaks with the affect and vocal fry of a man perpetually floating.
I have felt it in the vibrations and collective psychic ether, my friends.
Thump, thump, thump. You feel it too, if you open yourself to it. Thump, thump, thump. The beat of a drum, the throb of a muscle, stronger and stronger. Thump, thump, thump. Insistent. Hear me. Recognize me. Thump, thump, thump. Feed me.
The black screen fades into a man on a rocky peak. It’s clear that he’s in Painted Desert, likely somewhere east of the Grand Canyon. His looks carry the lean, lupine sort of beauty that makes life easy on people. Far too lanky to ever be muscular, he nonetheless carried most of his weight in his chest and shoulders, his body yogi-narrow. He is a study in mishmash hippie aesthetics: baggy Thai fisherman pants, blonde hair forced into an approximation of dreadlocks, feathers, beads, tattoos, and shoeless to let his dusty dogs feel the earth. The sun, rising over the formations, bathes him. He looks positively radiant, cut from stone, a lone figure amidst the glory of nature. Eyes closed, at peace, meditating on the larger questions.
A desire, a yearning.
We can rise up, if we truly believe. We can become one with that pulse, we can feed that hunger, we can be both the drum and the hand that hits it all at once.
As the dust swirls about him, as the music takes on tempo. the view fades to another scene. A dirt floor, radiant umber, is trod upon by many men, all stout and thick in the neck, every one of them to an individual wearing a loincloth. The chyron at the bottom of the screen defines this place, this sacred ground, as Mumbai, the building an Akhara–a site where one learns to wrestle. Not just any hooking, either: Pehlwani, the ancient art of grappling in India. He stands a head or two above the other men. Lifting as they lift. Stretching as they stretch. Grappling as they grapple, shoulders crashing into shoulders, arms working to gain advantage. He crashes to the dirt–he makes others crash to the dirt. His eyes, heterochromatic, carry a permanent glassiness that is indicative of extensive psychoactive substance use.
As the grappling subsides, we cut to the men around a well. As the guru wreaths them in incense, a bucket is retrieved.
The man goes first in the ritual bathing.
Society told you that knuckling down was the only answer.
Bootstraps. 401ks. Sheep existence until sheep death. But there is so much light and beauty, even you can see it. Playing at the edges of your gray worldview. If you focus on it, you can even hear it. The songs, the love, the joy, the energy.
The vibes of a tomorrow you can’t ever seem to make it to.
But what if you could?
Fading back to the Painted Desert, the man drops himself into a low, frankly impressive, horse stance. This, he transitions to a TKD crane stance. From this, he drops his legs back and lower his body into Tai Chi Chuan, Lute Playing form. This could be the kata of a true world warrior. Someone who has hybridized style after style and made them part of his very sinews, his mind, heart, and soul.
It could also be the kata of someone who has zero focus. The image shifts to a ratty looking wrestling ring in a run-down section of a city. The chyron on the bottom of the screen informs us: Kinshasa, Republic of Congo. Inside the ring, a mountainous man, black as midnight, is performing some manner of war dance as a man behind him beats a drum and chants. Catch Fetiche is like the wrestling we know, filtered through Vodou–and as the crowd around the ring parts, we can see that our man has taken time here as well. He walks to the ring with purpose, holding a smoking piece of Palo Santo, as a priest behind him brandishes a chicken and a curved, wicked looking blade. Where many would act bemused in what is clearly something of a camp atmosphere, he does not. His eyes though silated never falter, and he pauses periodically to wafte the smoke over his head and kneel before continuing, as if drawing further power.
As he reaches the edge of the ring, smoke and humanity enwreathing him, the priest does what one expects a man with a chicken and a knife to do. The man lets his face bathe in the blood before leaping, flat footed, into the ring. Blessed and consecrated.
I sell you nothing.
I give you nothing.
I am an opener of doors, a shatterer of walls, a breaker of seals.
I am a method by which the mundane can touch the great power of these cosmos. I am a lightning rod, a conduit, for something greater than all of us. The very fabric of what we experience down to the cells is a miracle.
But if you’re asleep, you can’t appreciate that.
You can’t feel the mother drum.
Back to the desert, he clambers down to the ground. He works his legs into a proper lotus position, his face showing a ghost of a smile as he remembers. It is uncertain where we are now. It appears to be a disused industrial space of some kind, long stretches of asphalt and concrete buildings that nature is slowly swallowing whole again. Vines are choking hard angles, trees are piercing the edifice.
Moon, floodlights, and what appear to be the odd torch are illuminating a circle of people. Within it, a brawny man with a shaved head is putting up the proverbial dukes. Opposite is our subject.
Doing Capoeira. Full Eddy Gordo. He sways towards the man with the approach of something resembling a breakdancer, arms and legs swinging, his smirk one of confidence–until the smirk gets socked through the back of his neck with an absolutely sickening right straight punch. Its force is such that his lower body continues its forward momentum, and there is a pregnant moment where it looks like his entire body is being suspended by the connection of the punch before he collapses to the ground in a lifeless heap.
The crowd’s activity dies down for a moment. Legitimate fear. The brawny warrior is arms up, cheering, Rocky at the stairtop–until the murmurs make him turn.
Our man has kipped to his feet. His lip is split like Overeem, blood positively soaking his face. And he strides toward the stunned combatant, who rears back to finish the job–before the hippie leaps into the air and contorts his body before turning the other man inside out with an aerial roundhouse kick!
The crowd stares in abject, agape, amazement.
He gathers some of the blood from his chin and makes a crimson circle on his forehead, a third eye, his broken smile the picture of serenity.
The images merge. Illuminated by artificial light, his mouth ragged and bleeding, his forehead bearing his third eye mark. Illuminated by the Sun, fully healed, transcending in meditative bliss. Entirely destroyed and entirely put together. But this isn’t a study in dichotomy. The environs and methods are different–the destination is the same. The fade holds, both images only at half opacity, as all four eyes open at once, staring directly at us–through us.
You can continue to live your life. Work your job. Pray to the god of capital, which is the god the world at large reveres the most.
Or you can break free.
I am ascendent.
Won’t you join me?
TICKETS ON SALE TOMORROW, SEPTEMBER 24, AT 10AM EST.
UNIVERSAL TITLE: CANCER JILES vs. JULIAN BATHORY
We return to the MGM Grand Garden Arena. A sicken buzz fills the air. The main event is upon us. A Universal Champion is about to be crowned. Head Official Timo Bolamba stands in the middle of the ring, ready.
But only after the toll is paid. The Ultraviolence Steel Cage hangs above the ring. The arena lights dim. Spotlights circling the perimeter of the cage shine upon it. And as Lost Soul by Warner/Chappell Productions begins to play, the cage begins its slow descent. The fans let out a loud roar at the coming violence.
Vince Howard: Ladies, Gentleman, people of all genders, this is next contest…is our MAAAAAAIN! EVENT! OF THE EVENING! AN ULLLLLTRAVIOLENCE STEEL CAGE MATCH for the PRIME UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP! THERE IS NO TIME LIMIT! THE ONLY WAY TO WIN IS BY PINFALL OR SUBMISSION!
Nick Stuart: We are here. Finally. A night of battles. A night of dreams. A night of nightmares.
Richard Parker: A night of violence.
Nick Stuart: The path to get here is complicated. Unexpected. And for many, undesired. The New World Savior. The Carpathian Devil. Julian Bathory. The COOLympian. The leader and head of the eGG Bandits. The King of Cool. Cancer Jiles. For the second time. For everything.
Richard Parker: I hate this.
Nick Stuart: These two men battled for thirty minutes at Great American Nightmare for a chance to be here. To fight for the Universal Championship. And when the final bell rang, there was no winner. A time limit draw. Perhaps a few more moments is all it would have taken to make things clear.
Richard Parker: You mean for Julian Bathory to have won.
Nick Stuart: It seems so simple looking back, doesn’t it? Back then, these two were expecting to have to climb The Tower of Babel. To face off against what some thought was an unbeatable champion. But everything changed on ReVival 13. The Proprietor of the Glue Factory, Phil Atken shocked the world. He made right on his promise. It wasn’t fully by his own hand. He beat Brandon Youngblood with the help of FLAMBERGE. PRIME was rattled to its core on that unlucky night.
Richard Parker: Hey, by the way, thanks Phil. For everything. For freaking everything.
Nick Stuart: It was determined that Cancer Jiles and Julian Bathory would both compete tonight for the Universal Championship. A three way. Contenders to the Universal Champion, Phil Atken. But then, on ReVival 15, after Jiles laid down his threat, that if…IF…he were to win the Universal Championship, he would leave PRIME with it…the path changed yet again. Phil Atken came out to confront the head of the eGG Bandits. And when he did? He was viciously assaulted by Julian Bathory.
Richard Parker: I can’t believe we’re still letting this go on like this.
Nick Stuart: The two contenders concussed Atken. The title was vacated. We don’t know if Atken will ever be able to wrestle again. Severe fines were levied. And then…this announcement. That the Universal Championship would be on the line between Julian Bathory and Cancer Jiles…in an Ultraviolence Steel Cage. That there is no escape. To become Universal Champion, these two men must rip each other apart…and then…only then…will one stand as Champion.
Richard Parker: No rules, right? Only pinfalls or submissions.
Nick Stuart: Maybe referee stoppage? But somehow, I imagine head official Timo Bolamba will be very lax in regards to this.
Richard Parker: I know what lot I am casting my chips with. And if there’s a stoppage, well…hail MESSIAH.
Nick Stuart: The richest prize in all of sports comes down to this. A New World Savior against a man who threatens to spit on everything PRIME represents, who wants to take the Championship and hold it for ransom.
Richard Parker: And if he does, he’ll be hunted. To the ends of the Earth, hunted.
Nick Stuart: I don’t think Cancer Jiles cares.
Richard Parker: He shouldn’t. Because at the end of the night, he’s going to remain titleless. And then, hell, maybe I will join MESSIAH. Because at least those people, I feel like I can trust them.
As the cage settles on the arena floor, the music fades. The lights draw to a dim.
An unnerving, yet COOL chill moves through the air.
Richard Parker: Oh Hoyt…already with this…
Down at the announce table, Richard Parker can be seen breathing into a brown paper bag.
The audience – the loyal, dedicated, PRIMEates that they are – rise to attention. If this is to be the last time they see Cancer Jiles they are going to make damn sure he doesn’t forget it.
Seconds, that seem like eternity, pass.
Nick Stuart: Here we go.
Suddenly, a spotlight clangs to life and illuminates the STEEL CAGE hanging high above the ring. Of course, the illumination sends the already rabid PRIMEates into an utter frenzy.
Nick Stuart: Listen to this crowd! They want blood!
Richard Parker: I’m pretty sure they are going to get it.
An intense, almost magical, mega heat creating, series of near blinding pyros light up the MGM Grand like a rocketship taking off from the Earth in the dead of night.
The all too familiar, wonderful, lovely, adorated, opening guitar riff from “I Am the Cool” rips through space and time. Screamin’ Jay then takes over.
I’m the one your mama warned you about
When you see me I will leave you no doubt
I’m the coolest man that ever walked this earth
I’ve been the coolest since the day of my birth
Another violent, almost blinding, July 4th esque, volley of pyro’s almost takes the roof off the building.
I Am the COOL
The spotlight switches from the cage to the entrance ramp. Standing there, in all of his MAIN EVENT glory, looking ready for battle, looking ready to leave whatever it takes inside the structure of chaos, looking ready to make good on the long walk good night– KING fucking COOL, Cancer Jiles.
Nick Stuart: As much as I hate to say it — Jiles looks ready to kill. A soda just hit him on his way down to the ring and it had no effect at all! He didn’t flinch, he didn’t even stop to berate the MESSIAH fan who threw it! He’s locked in, Rich. Could be a long night for Bathory.
Richard Parker: His hair didn’t even get wet… it’s like he’s got some sort of sheen covering it. I wonder if it’s like that because he knows he’s going to bleed, and he doesn’t want the excessive amount of blood to permanently stain his hair?
Nick Stuart: If anybody would take that type of precaution, it’s him.
Richard Parker: Fucking crumb.
The COOLympain slides under the bottom rope, finds the center of the ring, removes his T-Shades and throws them at his close friend, Senior Referee and the man who would strap the UNIVERSAL Championship around his waist should he be victorious tonight, Timo “COOL jet” Bolamba.
Nick Stuart: No love loss here between the two. I guess it’s safe to say that Jiles still blames Timo for supposedly botching Furst Blud, among many other things.
Richard Parker: I wonder who he will blame after tonight? Or are there no more eggs in that basket?
Vince Howard: Introducing first…representing the EGG BANDITS…from Philadelphia, Pennslyvania and weighing in at two hundred eighteen pounds…he is the GOD of MOUNT COOLYMPUS, and the Champion of the Almasy Invitational Lisieux bracket…COOL! CANCER! JIIIIIIIIILES!
The only mortal man to see the summit of COOLympus eases back on his tirade, points up to the cage a few times, and motions to Timo that he’s going to throw him from off the top of it if he gets in the way.
Nick Stuart: I think the better question is will Jiles be around so we can find out? I know he’s on the record as saying he was going to leave with the UNIVERSAL Championship to bury PRIME once and for all, but what happens if he loses? Are we that lucky that he’ll still go?
Richard Parker: I’ll start praying to the Cult of Bathory right now if that is the case. He doesn’t really drink blood though, does he? Never know with this lot.
And as the COOL One soaks in the proceedings, a procession of individuals file through the curtain, lining the aisle. Men and women of all ages. Among them even a couple of children take up sentry, looking at one another and glancing at the entrance. Some dare to look into the ring, meeting the eyes of Cancer Jiles, those fleeting glimpses met with disdain.
Nick Stuart: Who are these people?
Richard Parker: I believe…kindly folks from a small town that MESSIAH is based from.
All plunges into darkness.
The music starts. Strings, light percussion building. The first guitars hit, crashing across the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
No more Shadow.
Enter Metallica’s “The Thing That Should Not Be”, S&M edition.
A figure steps out, pauses, silhouetted against an almost blinding backdrop for a few moments as the instruments roar, the symphony rises and falls. The intensity of the light fades and he steps forward, revealing the director of MESSIAH, Julian Bathory, dressed for war. By way of contacts, his eyes are bright yellow, almost gold, shimmering in the light. The eyes of a dragon.
Messenger of fear in sight
Dark deception kills the light
Nick Stuart: Chills filling the air here…
Richard Parker: A Champion for the people! A Champion for us all!
Over his wrestling gear, the Carpathian Devil is adorned in gothic-themed raiments harkening back to a Dark Age conqueror king, donning elaborate bronze armor painted in his colors, the dark green, black and silver of MESSIAH International. Hulking pauldrons, vambraces, greaves, a steel cuirass. Thin scrolls of parchment hang from parts of the armor via wax seals, scrawled with heretical vows and oaths, some with indecipherable occult gibberish.
Nick Stuart: This is…this is quite the image.
Richard Parker: People believe what they want of Julian Bathory. But tonight, he fights the righteous fight. The virtuous fight. And I believe in him. I believe in all my heart he can bring an end to the madness that is Cancer Jiles.
Marching behind him appears his second, Bruce ‘Violence Jack’ Shanahan, donning a chasuble in a heinous parody of clergy, whispering last-minute instructions to his charge. To his flank a bannerman emerges, wielding a flag emblazoned with the faction logo. The stylized M with a crown halo.
Out from ruins once possessed
Fallen city, living death
Bathory stalks toward the ring, slow and deliberate with eyes fixed on the cage, standard-bearer in tow. Each follower kneels at his passing.
Vince Howard: And his opponent…hailing from Szeged, Hungary, accompanied by Bruce Shanahan, standing six feet, one inch and weighing two-hundred and twenty-six pounds…The New World Savior…JULIAN! BAAAATHORYYY!!”
Entering the cage, Bathory climbs the turnbuckle and grips the steel between gnarled fingers, squeezing. He peers into a sea of hostile PRIMEates, baying for the blood of both he and his opponent. Descending the corner ropes, he turns to lock those reptilian eyes on Cancer Jiles. The COOLympian is unintimidated, as obsessed with capturing the ultimate prize as the Hungarian. In the space between the two bubbles pure molten hate.
Drain you of your sanity
Face the thing that should not be
The two figures stand there, eyeing each other. Ready to strike. All they need is the bell. The lights return. There is no music. And, cutting through the tension, after what feels like an eternity, the bell FINALLY rings.
You think there’s going to be a feeling out between these two?
To start this match?
Ha. Ha. Ha.
Right from jump, without circling, without as much as a feint, Jiles and Bathory grab hold of each other. The tie up isn’t so much a showcase of wrestling acumen as it is the pair trying to exert physical dominance, control, hands going for the face of other, pushing against one another, Bathory having the power and leverage advantage but Jiles already brandishing his nails, trying to go for Julian’s eyes. A stiff forearm from Bathory should stop the attempt, but Jiles throws a fist into his stomach, all before swinging a sharp elbow at the Carpathian Devil’s cheek. Inside. Dirty boxing. Bathory fires off a round, a closed fist, dropping Cancer to a knee, only for the cockroach to pop back up while firing a forearm into the abs of the New World Savior. The COOLympian immediately tries to fishhook Bathory’s eye, and all Timo Bolamba can do is watch, shaking his head. The pair are trudging about the ring, locked in grasp, throwing blows, fists, forearms. A Bathory European uppercut once against drops Jiles to a knee, but the son of a bitch won’t stop, won’t give up, firing back up with a headbutt to the chest, grabbing at Bathory’s hair and pulling it back before throwing another brutal headbutt right into his mouth.
Nick Stuart: Jesus! Jesus! This isn’t a wrestling match! This is a fight! And these two want to kill each other!
Richard Parker: Everything is on the line! Everything is at stake! Don’t let him do this! For the Love of Hoyt, the love of EVERYTHING STOP HIM GET AWAY!
Pushed against the ropes, Bathory’s head yanked backward, Jiles goes for his throat, trying again to quickly dig out the Carpathian Devil’s eye. Bathory growls, spitting in the Bandit’s face, a huge gob of snot, all before crushing into Jiles nose with a headbutt of his own. This is enough to drop Jiles to both knees, hands pressing against the mat, and seeing the opening, the Prince of Tears soccer kicks him in the ribs, then wildly begins stomping on the back of the COOLympian’s head. Violent. Wild. Unhinged. Jiles tries to protect himself, tries to guard his head, but the second his arms try to cover, Bathory once again soccer kicks him in the ribs, quickly following by jumping up and savagely stomping Jiles in the head with his heel, awkwardly landing on the canvas in the process.
Richard Parker: Don’t let him breathe! Julian Bathory…don’t let him breathe!
Nick Stuart: Timo Bolamba is going against his instincts. You can see it, he wants to jump in, get some form of order–
Richard Parker: Let them fight! Let Bathory fight! If Cancer Jiles dies, he dies! I’m here for it! I’m so freaking here for it!
A maelstrom of violence. Bathory scrambles back to his feet, Jiles, sprawled on his back, is already flush with bruising all over his face and ribcage. An expectation. His eyes are wide, his mouth a snarl, but he’s staring up at his opponent, perhaps even surprised by how nasty he’s been from the beginning. He’d survive in a nuclear winter…but could he survive an end to all things? The glower of the vanguard of MESSIAH, the holder of the key of Abel, is met with forceful kicks at the legs of Cancer Jiles, and when the turtled COOLympian tries kicking back, the Prince of Tears just stomps at his right thigh, again and again, over and over, all before grabbing at the yelping Bandit’s ankle and pulling it close, only to snap it and drive the side of his knee into the thigh. Kneeling, Jile’s leg wrapped and contorting, Bathory wrenches. There is no delay. No showmanship. He’s trying to quickly jerk the leg in a way that will shred Cancer Jiles knee ligaments and tendons. The only thing that saves him? His other foot, the backside of it, wildly swings back and cracks Bathory in the jaw with his heel, almost akin to a landed axe kick. And once Bathory drops to the canvas? Jiles scurries on his hands and knees, punching, elbowing, going after the head of Julian Bathory in any way that he can, all before blatantly choking him with both hands.
Richard Parker: No!
Nick Stuart: These two…these two men…this is…they are trying to hurt the other. They’re trying to end the other!
Richard Parker: Timo! Do something! That’s…that’s illegal!
Nick Stuart: Bolamba wants to, he wants to more than anything, Jiles, oh my lord…it’s not enough! He headbutts Bathory in the face and drives his forearm into his throat, all as he’s hammering him in the face with his elbow, Jesus! This…this is uncomfortable! This…this isn’t wrestling!
Richard Parker: It’s dog fighting. Human cockfighting. All they lack are razor blades on their fingers, and Hoyt knows that the only reason that they don’t have them…YET…is because someone didn’t suggest the idea to them before.
Cancer Jiles grabs onto Bathory’s face, pushing himself up to a stand, pressing all his weight against his opponent to do so. Once up, it’s his turn to throw a soccer kick to the face of Bathory, and after it lands, he begins landing boot after boot, shaking his right leg from the hold earlier, then launching his knee into the face of his downed opponent. Back to his feet, the Bandit spits on the body of Bathory, drooling, foaming at the mouth.
Cancer Jiles: Fucking crumb! Crumb! Crumb!
Seeing Timo getting close, too close for his liking, the COOLympian shoves him away with all his might, flipping him off in the process. The Samoan Silencer cocks his fist back, ready to strike, but gets another middle finger and Jiles pointing at his chin, demanding he try. The boos rain down in the MGM Grand Garden Arena, all as Jiles grabs his own nuts.
Cancer Jiles: Sackless gimp! Little try hard! Michael Jordan this!
Every bit of antagonism, it tests Bolamba’s stretched patience. The disrespect comes at a cost, though; as Cancer Jiles postures and preens like the magnanimous prick that he is, Julian Bathory comes up from his knees, launching himself and his forearm into the kidney’s of the COOLympian. The air leaves Jiles body, drops him to a knee, and as he falls, Bathory grabs onto him around the waist, a forceful elbow connecting to the back of his opponent’s head, quickly wrenching him over and german suplexing him on top of his head.
Nick Stuart: He’s maintaining the hold!
Richard Parker: Maybe he broke his neck!
Having folded Cancer Jiles with a devastating german suplex, one would expect Bathory would have an easy time going for whatever he wants after. Alas, the survival instinct of the COOLympian is enough to have the cockroach grabbing at the hands smothering his waist as the two lay on the canvas. Bathory tries to rise, but Jiles deadweights him, so he rolls, trying again, to no success. The two roll, each time the Prince of Tears looking to lift him up and break his neck, each time failing, until, without warning, the pair, locked in struggle, go under the bottom rope, over the ring apron, and crash to the floor. One would think THIS would break the hold, but it doesn’t. The suddenness is enough to allow Bathory to rise, roaring, powerlifting Cancer Jiles up. The Bandit’s arms wildly flail as he tries to stop this, but before he knows it, he’s released onto the back of his head with a german suplex.
Nick Stuart: I can’t…this match can’t go on much longer at this pace, with this level of violence–
Richard Parker: Savor this! Savor this moment because it’s the last gasp of Cancer Jiles until he’s finally…FINALLY…kicked to the Hoytdamn curb! And when he does it, Julian Bathory won’t just BE Universal Champion, he’ll truly be our savior!
Nick Stuart: Even more so than Hoyt–
Richard Parker: A man can have many faith’s, Nick! Many faiths!
Nick Stuart: Bathory, Julian Bathory, Carpathian Devil, Prince of Tears, the vanguard of MESSIAH, and this savagery, this meanstreak, we saw it at Great American Nightmare and saw it against Jonathan Rhine and it’s different…it’s different than what we saw of him in the Almasy…bumps in the road but the man…the lineage…we knew he’d be here. And he’s here, tonight, Ultraviolence, and he’s grabbing at the prone Cancer Jiles, dragging him, the cage, OH! He throws his face into the cage!
Richard Parker: Asshole talks about that perfect hair of his all the time. Bleach it with his blood! I want to see him cut to the freaking bone!
Bathory is attempting to do just that, using both of his hands to throw Jiles face into the chainlink fencing, causing the loud rattle to reverberate throughout. Of course, not content, he begins rubbing Jiles face against the chainlink, grating him, trying to get every bit of cheese he can for his dish of unadulterated hatred. Three Michelin Stars. If you have Cancer Jiles as the first one to bleed on your prop bet list, congratulations, you probably made a few pennies on your bet! The greater concern, at least for the COOLympian, is that his now lacerated forehead is being pushed deep into the chainlink by the point of the Carpathian Devil’s knee against the back of his head. Is Jiles yelling or is that coming from the crowd? You be the judge. Jiles tries to push back against the cage, but this only stokes the fire of Bathory, who hauls off and thrusts his boot into the back of Cancer’s head, causing his opponent to collapse in a heap. Just as soon as he is down, though, Bathory yanks him back up by the hair, letting out an otherworldly roar as he runs, Jiles in tow, and launches the COOLympian’s head into the ringpost, causing him to spiral out of control and flop onto his stomach on the ring mats. And if THAT wasn’t enough? Bathory once again uses that wonderful head of Bandit hair and then throws him into the cage.
Nick Stuart: Julian Bathory beating Jiles from pillar to post now! Every fight for the Universal Championship since PRIME’s revival has been a physical war, a battle, something beyond the pale of what we’ve seen in all other championship encounters. And that’s no offense to any of them…but the toll it takes on the bodies of the contenders, the competitors, the champions–
Richard Parker: And Bathory just keeps dragging Jiles face against the cage!
Nick Stuart: The joy in your voice…
Richard Parker: Too much?
Nick Stuart: I’d say–
Richard Parker: Not. Enough.
Nick Stuart: Jiles and Bathory have been at each other’s throats for months. The verbal jabs, the threats of violence–
Richard Parker: Cancer Jiles said that if he wins he’s leaving PRIME with the belt, and Bathory has promised…PROMISED…if that were to happen, MESSIAH would smoke him out, would sunder any promotion that would give him cover. But HE’S not going to need to do that. HE’S going to just end this bastard’s career, TONIGHT, inside the Ultraviolence Cage!
Nick Stuart: Bathory…you’d think he’d be smirking, you’d think he’d be happy with his handiwork, but he’s just gruesome in his anger! He has Jiles face pressed against that chainlink, running him like sandpaper, fingers hooked in his mouth! And Cancer Jiles is a bloody mess, trying to push away, trying to get away, but he can’t!
Richard Parker: STAY ON HIM JULIAN!
Richard is going off because the Carpathian Devil releases his grip on the now slumping on his knees Jiles, his opponent’s fingers clasping at the fencing, trying to keep himself some form of stable. Bathory quickly turns, going to the ring apron, and with the measurement in his eye, goes and launches himself, ready to land a vicious knee to the back of the COOLympian’s head and push his trapped face as deep into the cage as possible. And it would have worked too, had Jiles not limply collapsed over, sending Julian Bathory’s heavy knee into the cage, awkwardly landing on the outside.
Richard Parker: No! You had him! You just had to keep going and you had him!
Nick Stuart: Bathory grabbing at his knee! And Jiles, oh MY GOD LOOK AT THE BLOOD!
Heavy lacerations pour blood down the face of Cancer Jiles. But for the eGG Bandit King, this is normal. Well, as normal as car crashes and blood transfusions can be. The bangs of his platinum blonde locks are fire engine red. With a gurgle, Jiles spits blood from his lips like a geyser, causing it to mist in the air. Are there little rainbows contained within? Surely. Pressing against the mats, Jiles nearly loses his balance as Bathory grabs at his own knee, using his other hand to pull at the cage to get himself to a stand. Hobbling, the New World Savior wildly punches at his injured leg, this prison of flesh impeding his marching will.
Richard Parker: WATCH OUT!
Bathory is turning around, but it’s too late; a heavy steel toolbox is thrown, blasting him in the face, the metal latch exploding open and causing hammers and wrenches and screwdrivers to rain. Cancer Jiles had grabbed the hip roof style box and flung it overhand from a loaded shoulder by the handle. He wasn’t the only one who was going to bleed. Bathory’s nose was busted, a nasty gash having formed at the base of the bridge. His bruising was even more acute, black and purple. The toolbox also managed to gash him underneath the eye, maybe even having broken his cheek.
Richard Parker: His nose! Oh Hoyt his nose just exploded!
Nick Stuart: This is insanity! Insanity! We saw just last month the effects of a broken nose when Phil Atken kicked Brandon Youngblood in the face. But this…I can’t…I mean…
Richard Parker: He…he can’t use that! That’s…that’s not–
Nick Stuart: It’s all legal. Everything! Everything we’ve seen! The funny tagline for this match was that no matter who wins, we all lose. People wanted these two to bleed. To maim and hurt each other. And now we’re here, and now…now…
Richard Parker: COME ON JULIAN!
Nick Stuart: …I’m wondering if we’re lesser people for witnessing this.
Wiping blood out of his eyes with his forearm, Jiles slowly makes his way over to the prone Bathory, stomping on him, again and again, spitting more blood onto him, reaching down and grabbing a wrench before pitching it at Bathory’s head. The turtling is the only thing that stops the Prince of Tears from eating it. Cancer continues his stalking, grabbing Bathory after he falls to his own knees, pounding him with closed fists, then bringing the head of MESSIAH up with him and slamming his face into the steel cage before letting go, driving his shoulder into his stomach and pushing his back into the chain link. All air spurts from the lungs of Julian Bathory, and on the come up, Jiles open hand slaps him across the face, hooking his head and forcing him into the ring.
Nick Stuart: This…this is not looking good…
Richard Parker: Tell me about it! I think I’m getting a gout flare up. Or maybe IBS? I need a damn platter of Pepto, right now, the Ultra, stat! My heart can’t take this! Oh Hoyt, my freaking heart can’t take this!
Nick Stuart: The canvas is littered with their blood, every movement they make, it’s pouring and pouring. We’ve seen so much tonight, dog collars, mask versus mask, but all those…it’s paling in comparison to what we are seeing right here, right now! And Timo Bolamba, he’s got his hands on his head, he looks almost like he could throw up right here.
Richard Parker: Tell me about it…
Nick Stuart: He…he should stop this. We know he should stop th–
Richard Parker: NO! NOT NOW! THAT’LL MAKE JILES THE UNIVERSAL CHAMPION!
Nick Stuart: But Julian Bathory…we don’t even–
Richard Parker: No! NO NO NO! Let him fight his way through this! Fight Julian! For Bruce! For MESSIAH! For all those lovely people in Abel we’ve had visit Las Vegas this weekend…do it for them! Do it for me! PLEAAAASE!
The canvas is a towel. And Cancer Jiles doesn’t give a shit. Julian Bathory tries to roll away, tries to force himself up, but the COOLympian punts him in the ribs. And the moment he tries to do it again, another boot to the ribs, the toe of his boot blasting toward his upper ribcage. Jiles loads up and drives his elbow into the back of Bathory’s head, and, with one hand washing his face into the rough canvas, his other begins peppering with punches, and, if he can manage, clawing at the New World Savior’s eyes. Cancer grabs around Bathory’s mouth, fishhooking him, yanking him back and driving his knee into the side of Julian’s head, trying to turn him into a distant sibling of Tony ‘The Grin’ Gamble. Bathory tries getting free throwing wild punches at Jiles, but nothing lands, causing the COOLympian to loudly laugh at him.
Cancer Jiles: That Noah Hanson shit can’t save you now!
Oh yeah? How about a dick punch right in your KFC Kitchen, Mr. Jiles. Finger lickin’ good, huh? How about some more to follow? A three piece and a soda? Jorge Masvidal would be proud. Having his pills punched into his throat, Jiles collapses, groans, grabs at his crotch, and for a brief moment, there’s nothing, no hands, no kicks, no chokes or gouges. Just breathing. And aching. And blood. And pain. Julian Bathory lays on the canvas, arms out, his chest heaving up and down. Blood gurgles from his nostrils in ropes. Jiles? He’s moaning, looking ready to throw up, drooling with his head pressed against the canvas, a floppy slap to the ring from his ankle, a hammerfist vibrating through the ring boards. This is the antithesis of COOL.
This fucking sucks.
Nick Stuart: These two men…
Richard Parker: One’s a man. The other’s and animal.
Nick Stuart: These two men…I…there’s no way this can keep going on. There’s just no way!
As if spurred on by Nick, the pair begin to slowly meander towards the other, scratching at the canvas, clawing toward the other. Neither one of them is the picture of health. Neither one of them is ready to do anything but paint Vegas red in blood, both of their own and their own opponent. Their crawl finally meets with their target, each other, heads against one another, both men on their knees, and without hesitation, they start throwing wild haymakers at each other, over and over, again and again, rocking the other back, aiming at the other’s facial injuries, finding zero quarter. When that doesn’t prove effective enough, they begin headbutting each other, the sickening thud of the two’s skulls slamming into each other, the mixing of their cursed blood, all of it is concussion worthy. Jiles hauls off and smacks Bathory across the face. The Carpathian Devil spits in his eye and elbows him in the jaw. Another slap. Another elbow to the jaw. Another slap, and then, an eye gouge. Jiles, with the advantage, stands up, throwing a heavy dropkick to the face of Bathory.
Nick Stuart: That tool box might be the difference here.
Richard Parker: Where’s Bruce Shanahan? Where’s Violence Jack?! I need you VJ! I NEED YOU SO BADLY RIGHT NOW! PLEASE PLEASE BY HOYT PLEASE NO! MESSIAH TAKE THE WHEEEEEEL! JILES IS IN CONTROL AND I WANT OFF THIS RIDE!
Ever the embodiment of bravado, Jiles pushes himself to his feet and throws his hands out. This is over. This is over right now. Stalking, staggering, he reaches the nearest corner, and slowly begins to climb up. Each step carries with it a bit of labor. And once at the top, he stands tall, mask of blood pouring down his face, and as the fans boo him loudly, he can’t help gesture with his hand.
You’re welcome, Lee.
Bathory’s pushing of his ankles, and the subsequent further crotch trauma of landing on the turnbuckle, shows that posturing isn’t the smartest of plays. The New World Savior throws a headbutt at Jiles as he begins to climb up the same turnbuckle. Once at the top, he tries to grab hold for a front chancery, or perhaps go for a top rope exploder suplex. The COOLympian has a say in the matter, however, and throws a haymaker to the side of Bathory. Another breaks the hold, and the two are precarious in their positioning on the top turnbuckle. Jiles wants to shove him back into the ring. And he would, if Bathory hadn’t hit him with a forearm. Losing momentum, and knowing there were few ways out, the Carpathian Devil decides to do something so ruthless, it might just finish off Cancer Jiles for good and all.
Nick Stuart: THEY’RE ON A RAZOR’S EDGE HERE–
Richard Parker: BATHORY HAS A HOLD OF HIM–
Nick Stuart: STANDING UP ON THAT TOP TURNBUCK–
Bathory grabs onto Jiles head and jumps.
Richard Parker: WHAT THE–
Sixteen feet. That’s the measurement from the arena floor to the top of the Ultraviolence Cage. Around the top of it are 17 gauge galvanized steel rails. These pieces of information are important because what happens will be remembered forever. Julian Bathory jumped from the top rope with Cancer Jiles in hand, slamming the COOLympian’s head off the rails with a violent ping. The Prince of Tears let go a moment before collision. He fell to the arena floor in a heap, having eaten some of the steel mesh. But Jiles? The blow was so heavy, so pointed, his head swung back as his body ricocheted from hitting the cage.
Another important number; three feet. That’s the separation between ring and cage. That’s about the distance Cancer Jiles fell the other way. Against the ring apron. Like a pinball.
On his now dislocated right shoulder.
Nick Stuart: HOLY SWEET MAMA OH MY GOD! OH MY–OH MY-OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOOD!
Richard Parker: OH MY GOD! OH MY JESUS HOLY SHIT!
Jiles roars in pain, his body in shock, hobbling because of the survival adrenaline burst before falling back down in a crumpled heap, grabbing at his shoulder, his back, and we can see that his face, especially over the right eye, an awful blister of swelling has created a mouse that damn near closes up his eye.
Nick Stuart: WE NEED DOCTORS, TRAINERS, ANYONE YOU CAN SPARE NOW! NOW! THIS INSTANT! THIS VERY INSTANT!
Richard Parker: He…he’s…
Nick Stuart: Don’t say it Richard!
Richard Parker: I…I…
The entire MGM Grand Garden Arena is on their feet, a strange murmur running through the crowd. Timo rushes to the outside. And as Jiles turtles and moans and yells in unadulterated pain, there are no EMTs or health officials rushing down to the ring. Bolamba draws close to the COOLympian, all the bad blood, the verbal jabs, a stolen jet, every bit of physical animus, and yet still, STILL, he’s huddling near Cancer Jiles asking, checking, sincerely, if he’s okay. He receives nothing. From the corner of his eye, he can see the approaching Bathory, who is ready to strike, ready to finish this once and for all and ascend to the throne of PRIME. He should have been allowed to do so under the rules. But Timo Bolamba, the head official of PRIME, refuses. He steps up, his body as a shield. Julian tries to shove him away, but the Samoan Silencer bows up, planting his feet, demanding the New World Savior to stop, now, this instant. Bathory becomes irate, trying to push through, but the broad form of Bolamba acts as an impenetrable wall.
And as he does?
Cancer Jiles proves he’s a cockroach.
Barely able to stand, his right arm hanging loosely and on a thread, he grits his teeth, and launches himself, shoulder first, into the ring apron. Again. And again. Each time, he lets out a primal scream, until one final volley has him feel the joint go back into place. He tries wringing the arm, collapsing to his knees, and as he does, his one good hand reaches underneath the ring skirt.
Nick Stuart: I think I’m going to be sick…
Richard Parker: THERE’S NO RULES! THERE’S NO DAMN RULES! WHY IS TIMO–
Bathory has had enough of this. He rolls into the ring, scampering as quickly as he can to reach the other side before Timo walls off Jiles again. He beats Bolamba there, just barely, but it would be better if he hadn’t, because the COOLympian is ready to lash out.
Richard Parker: YOU SEE?! YOU SEE?!
Nick Stuart: That’s…that’s…that’s the dog collar and chain from earlier in the night!
Richard Parker: And Timo Bolamba just gave Cancer freaking Jiles a damn life line! A prayer! A hail mary!
The dog collar and chain from Jacob Mephisto and Anna Daniels earlier confrontation is wrapped, in part, around the fist of the COOL Bandit. Blasting Bathory in the stomach, he winds the chain just a little bit, standing up on unsure footing, and then whips it around the head and ear of Julian Bathory. That brings the Carpathian Devil to his knees. The neck strike explodes across his back. Bathory tries to get away, a whipped dog, trying to find space, but Jiles follows, slamming the chain against the New World Savior’s body.
Nick Stuart: Bathory trying to get away! Trying to get away! And Jiles, his arm hanging loose, he’s…he’s…
Richard Parker: Laughing! This sick bastard is laughing!
Nick Stuart: Bathory rolling into the ring, trying to get distance but that chain just keeps getting whipped against him! Cancer Jiles is whipping the life out of Julian Bathory and there’s nothing he can do about it!
Richard Parker: All Bandits Wrestling. Hey Lindsay Troy, hope you’re freaking happy with this because this is a goddamn mess and YOU let it happen!
Jiles breathes pure vitriolic hatred. It powers from his lungs with each heavy swing of the chain against the body of Julian Bathory. Every blow hits heavy. The Prince of Tears should be shedding his own, given how his body is just a mess of black and purple welts. All over. A mishmash of pain and agony etched across his body in indecipherable patterns. Perhaps his Gods understand their message. Losing steam, Jiles collapses, but not before using the chain against Bathory’s throat, trying to choke him into unconsciousness.
Nick Stuart: Jiles, savvy, he’s savvy, but that arm–
Richard Parker: It’s a damn loophole! Julian! Julian PLEASE! Don’t do this! I know your face is turning purple! Fight it! Please fight this!
Nick Stuart: Jiles is…oh my he’s–you can tell the shot he absorbed is taking a toll on him and the adrenaline drop is happening as we–
Richard Parker: He’s loaded up WATCH OUT!
Nick Stuart: COOLYMPIAN YOL–
Richard Parker: BATHORY ROLLED AWAY!
Nick Stuart: In the nick of time! In the nick of time, Julian Bathory rolls away from the yellow yolk mist of Cancer Jiles!
The two just collapse to the canvas, Bathory nursing himself, Jiles slumping like a sack of bricks. Once the air starts to fill Julian’s lungs, he gets another surge, but he has already rolled close to the end of the apron. He falls outside with a thud, but the placement is ideal. Getting to his knees, he reaches underneath the apron, pulling free a steel chair.
Of course, he could bludgeon Cancer Jiles with it.
What he does instead, though, surprises everyone.
Nick Stuart: Bathory…Bathory…he’s–
Richard Parker: Frustrated, Nick! How would you feel if Timo Bodumbass stopped you from winning the Universal Championship? If because of what he pulled, you just got whipped like a damn dog by a chain and who knows how messed up that made you? Oh yeah, HE’S PISSED! AND HE HAS EVERY RIGHT TO BE!
Bathory violently keeps swinging the chair against the ring post like it’s an axe, bending it, contorting it, and finally, after who knows how many swings, the chair begins to break into pieces. Bent, broken, steel pieces. Reaching down, he grabs a jagged bar from near the bottom of the chair, and he rolls into the ring just as Cancer Jiles has managed to drag himself up to a stand with the aid of the ropes. Enough time. Jiles strikes!
Nick Stuart: TERMINAL CANCER–
Richard Parker: MISSES! HE MISSES!
He can’t see. But Jiles feels what happens next. The exploder suplex from Bathory rattles the entire ring. And when he’s done? He takes the piece of steel chair he is still holding, and, with the COOLympian in a rear naked choke, begins tearing at the mouse above his right eye with the piece of jagged metal.
Nick Stuart: STOP THIS! STOP THIS DAMN MATCH!
Richard Parker: YES! PLEASE! STOP IT! STOP IT NOW!
The Carpathian Devil is remorseless as he digs the metal into the wound of Cancer Jiles, who is roaring, screaming, howling in agony. The blood from before? It’s literally pissing down his forehead as he tries to grab at Bathory’s wrists, to pull the bar away. He can’t. And Timo is there, asking, hell, even pleading if Jiles wants to quit. All Bolamba needs is a sign, absolutely anything, and he will stop it. Going limp. A single uttered syllable of surrender. There is no let up. Julian Bathory will keep tearing at the swollen mess of Cancer Jiles face until there is nothing left. Jiles tongue hangs from his mouth. He reaches for Bathory’s eyes, but can’t find them. Desperation. Everything slipping. A failure. His rage and jealousy and hatred all for nothing. A laughing stock and a joke. Also ran. As much as he talks himself the main event, all he offers is being a PRIME gatekeeper to the true Champions. Ha. Ha. Funny what such monumental failure can breed. Maybe he can lord over High Octane again if he tries hard enough.
A little bit of yoljk. He sprays it in Timo’s eyes. And with the Samoan Silencer blinded, he grabs onto him as best as he can with both hands and jerks him toward him as hard as he can manage. Timo’s head collides with Bathory’s. The Carpathian Devil lets go. The piece of chair out of his hand. Enough of a momentary reprieve to give Jiles enough time to muster some kind of come back. Like an animal, the COOLympian drops onto Julian Bathory, pinning one of his legs underneath both of his. With blood geysering out of his head, Cancer knows he doesn’t have much time left. So he makes the most of it. He begins throwing his good fist into the nuts of Julian Bathory, punching him as hard as he can, over and over and over and over and over again. Bathory tries to stymy, but this is Fight Club, Jiles is Tyler Durden, and fights go on as long as they have to. Jiles keeps punching Julian Bathory in the crotch, each blow carrying with it malice and desperation.
Until Timo Bolamba dives on him to put a stop to it.
Bathory curls into the fetal position.
Jiles is instantly irate. There is no bell. The conspiracy is real. The Goddamn Motherfucking Crumb Conspiracy is real!
Timo Bolamba tries to get as much as the yoljk out of his eyes as he can.
Timo Bolamba: That’s enough!
And as the Samoan Silencer stands above Jiles, even in this ruleless match, perhaps the reality is, it’s a call needed made. The make up from earlier. Doesn’t help that Jiles spit in his face. The COOLympian uses the ropes to get up, yelling, his words undecipherable and covered in the spattle of blood. And then, out of nowhere…
Nick Stuart: TERMINAL CANCER ON TIMO BOLAMBA!
Richard Parker: Call the match! Call it! He just hit an official he’s disqualified Bathory is the Universal Champion!
Referee Timo Bolamba falls to the canvas with a sick thud, and Cancer Jiles follows with him.
Cancer Jiles: CRUMB! YOU FUCKING CRUMB! YOU RUINED IT YOU FUCKING CRUMB! YOU COST ME YOU COST ME YOU COST ME EVERYFUCKINGTHING YOU CRUMB PIECE OF SHIT I’LL FUCKIN–
Jiles kicks him while he’s down, and goes to do the same to Bathory, stomping him, stomping wildly, heavily, all over. The New World Savior, helpless. Until…until…
Nick Stuart: BATHORY GRABBED THE ANKLE! OH HE’S GOT A HEEL HOOK!
Richard Parker: YES! YES!
Nick Stuart: NOWHERE TO GO! NOWHERE TO GO! JILES IS GRABBING AT THE ROPES BUT THERE’S NO REFEREE AND THERE’S NO ROPE BREAKS–
Richard Parker: YES! THANK HOYT YES GO JULIAN GO BATHORY YESSSSSS!
This isn’t some protracted struggle. Julian Bathory has the heel hook locked in, and he’s got it in fast and tight. And with a savage wrench, Cancer Jiles can feel his ankle breaking. Can feel the ligaments tearing. It’s mere seconds but this heel hook has Rousimar Palhares intent. Jiles pulls himself out of the ring, falling as best as he can to the floor, but Bathory still has the heel hooked. The only thing Jiles can do is use his other foot to throw his heel and hit Bathory in the face as many times as he can and hope his ankle isn’t broken before then. It takes three strikes to the nose to get Julian Bathory to finally let go, and when he does, the cockroach that is Cancer Jiles knows his ankle is completely and totally screwed. He goes and begins unlacing his boot, trying to relieve the pressure. He yells in frustrated pain, wails in agony, his free hand smacking against the mats on the outside. He manages to get the boot all the way loose, kicking it off, collapsing with his back on the floor. A slight roll to his side. That was his kicking foot, not his planting one, at least that was what he tried to tell himself…well…if he could do that at this point. He reaches to grab at his boot, but with shaky fingers and a loose grip, the boot flops underneath the ring skirt. He begins trying to reach for it again, sitting up, and as he does, Bathory grabs onto his head.
Urgency settles in. Without his special boot, he’s done. A wild feeling out underneath the ring. Eureka! He just barely grabs hold of it with his good hand, and as Bathory is about to pull him back into the ring, he pulls the boot out, waffling the Carpathian Devil in the head with it. The blow is vicious. Violent. Jiles almost loses grip of his boot. Bathory is laid out, barely conscious.
Jiles does as best as he can to get into the ring, in getting the boot on his foot. A few of the laces must have come out of the eyelets. His pruned and blood soaked struggle to quickly get enough of the laces through so the boot will remain on his ankle, at least for the short term. Like Frankenstein’s monster, Julian Bathory begins to rise, and he can taste the tide. He knows his prey is done for. Shot. All it will take is a final killing blow.
If only he knew.
Nick Stuart: TERMINAL CANCER!
Richard Parker: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!
Cancer Jiles Superkick hits him right in the mouth, and the only thing that keeps Bathory from collapsing are the ropes his body caroms into. Hobbling, Jiles has him measured. Under his breath? For only himself to hear?
Cancer Jiles: Fuck The Queen.
Nick Stuart: TERMINAL CANCER AGAIN! A SECOND SUPER KICK FROM CANCER JILES AND BATHORY IS COMPLETELY OUT COLD!
Richard Parker: NOOOOOOOOOO!!! NO NO NO NO NOOOOOOO!!!
The shot is hard enough that the boot flies off Jiles foot.
The horseshoe from Cocaine that was inside falls out as well.
The one-two switcheroo. Love ya Bobby.
Nick Stuart: COVER!
Richard Parker: DON’T! NOOO! NOT LIKE THIS! PLEASE HOYT NOT LIKE THIS!
There is no life in Julian Bathory right now. Maybe there will be in a few moments. Timo Bolamba, barely conscious, his jaw maybe broken, his face covered in yoljk, sees Cancer Jiles covering Julian Bathory. The smile across the COOLympian’s face would freeze the Devil’s heart.
Cancer Jiles: DO YOUR JOB CRUMB!
He shouldn’t. Timo Bolamba knows he can’t. Not for the soul of PRIME. To let this bastard be it’s champion?
But he was a man of his word.
No matter how damned they were.
DING DING DING
The King of COOL rolls off Julian Bathory, both men now flat on their backs on the canvas…with one exception.
Jiles is cackling.
Vince Howard: The winner of this match…and NEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWW….
Vince Howard: …Universal Champion…
Vince Howard: …”COOL” Cancer Jiles!
The cage slowly starts to lift skyward. Timo Bolamba is handed the Universal Title once the massive steel structure is high enough.
Nick Stuart: This was a war. An absolute bloody battle where, if I’m being honest, nobody was going to be happy with the outcome.
Richard Parker: Except Jiles. I hate it here. Start praying for the asteroid to claim us, there’ll be no dealing with him now.
Nick Stuart: If we even will still be dealing with him. If he makes good on his promise to leave PRIME and take the belt with him to HOW…
Richard Parker: No way. No way does Lindsay Troy allow that…
Nick Stuart: She’s not here though, Rich, she went to the hospital with Jon Rhine and Shweta.
Richard Parker: Killean, then! Tchu! Anybody!
Bruce Shanahan has entered the ring and is kneeling by Bathory’s side, screaming for medical attention, while Jiles has stumbled to his feet. THE COOL glares at Timo, rips the Universal Title from his hands, and demands he raise his hand in the air. What else can the head referee do but comply as part of his job?
But it’s not booos that greet the gesture. Instead, a wave of cheers rise from the PRIMEates as the Enemigos, Wade Elliott, and Dametreyus storm down the ramp, eyes locked on the new Uni Champ just up ahead.
Nick Stuart: Here comes the cavalry!
Richard Parker: PRAISE HOYT, IT’S A MIRACLE!
Jiles looks at them approaching rapidly and decides to make a run for it…
…except Timo’s still got ahold of him.
The Samoan Silencer prevents him from escaping as Wade and Dam slide deftly underneath the bottom rope and get their mitts on Jiles, much to the delight of the crowd! They muscle him out of the ring and, surrounded by the Enemigos, haul him backstage and out of sight. Timo follows them for added assistance.
Nick Stuart: Where are they taking him? What’s going on?
Richard Parker: Who cares, Nick, he’s not getting away, that’s the most important thing!
Nick Stuart: Someone get a camera back there!
No such visual comes. Instead, the medical team hit the ring to check on Bathory, and UltraViolence comes to an end.