UltraViolence 2023 – Night One
ULTRAVIOLENCE NIGHT ONE
9/23/2022 – MGM Grand, Las Vegas
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 its champion?
But he was a man of his word.
No matter how damned they were.
DING DING DING
Haunting guitar notes are plucked by ancient fingers as a raspy, near death, Johnny Cash croons the masterpiece “Hurt”. The image of Cancer Jiles holding the Universal Title fades from the screen, replaced by these words:
9/22-23/2023 – Soldier Field, Chicago
I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
A whirlwind blows and drops two equally matched combatants, Chandler Tsonda and Tony Gamble, into a ring. The words “Great American Nightmare ‘06” flash across the screen with both men jostling for the 5-Star Title. The wind returns and morphs to the men in a cage coming together as “Ultraviolence ‘08” flashes. Finally they stand toe to toe, ego to ego as “UltraViolence ‘23” wisps into smoke above them and they disappear together in the wind.
I focus on the pain
The only thing that’s real
The Sultan of Skree flies into a dark frame where, awaiting him is the diminutive and colorful Kennade Starr. Rocky tenses for a fight with a smile on his face that vanishes when he sees Mr. Bubbles step out of the shadows. The FDP releases a mighty SKREE! And charges forward.
The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
A giant set of pointed wind up teeth chase Morty around in the darkness and as they grow ever closer, he runs toward the final stop of his destiny. Finally, he can run no further and turns, defiantly giving the mechanical jaws “the bird” before they clamp down and swallow him whole.
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything
Paxton Ray drags a lifeless form into the shot, and before long it is clear that it is Mike Battaglia. He throws the unconscious man at the feet of another, and the camera pans up to see The Anglo Luchador ball his fists to prepare for war.
What have I become?
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know goes away
In the end
The voices of Nick Stuart and Richard Parker break clearly over the music.
Nick Stuart: Ladies and gentlemen, this match has “all-timer” written all over it! Remember where you were and what you’re doing because this is a moment!
Richard Parker: I can’t believe we’re getting four of the best in the industry in one match!
Vince Howard: IT’S TIIIIIIIME FOR THE MAAAAAAAIN EVENT OF NIGHT OOOOOOOONE!
And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt
A Kaiju sized lizard made of glue…a Lizue? A Gluzard? We’re going with Gluzard… charges across a crowded cityscape as the camera pans to Jared Sykes and Hayes Hanlon as they do a Fusion Dance. They touch fingers and a bright light envelops the screen, leaving in its wake a mustachioed hero with Jared Sykes’ tear ducts and a posterior so ample that you know he has never, ever, missed squat day. The two forces collide with an intense rumbling and the screen fades to words as the melancholic song continues.
I wear this crown of thorns
Upon my liar’s chair
Anna Daniels opens a door and flips on a light switch to a room that has written, everywhere in the room in multiple sizes, colors, and fonts “WHO IS MAX KAEL?” As she bravely steps into the room with a sonic screwdriver at the ready, the forms of Max, U.N. Couth, and Violent Purple rise from the shadows behind her.
Full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair
Flashes and images of Timo Bolamba and Dave Gibson fighting one another tooth and nail flicker on the PRIMEtron and the camera spins behind Timo and when it comes to the other side it is Eddie Cross. Both the student and mentor collide and all that is left behind is a tee-shirt from 2007 that is faded with cracked text that says “A Hatred that is Hardcore.”
Beneath the stains of time
The feelings disappear
Cancer Jiles holds an eGG carton and opens it revealing Bobby Dean, Doozer, Cardboard Dan Ryan and other eGG bandits past, present, and (God help us) future are within, neatly packaged in each slot. Coral Avalon strides into the frame dressed head to toe in ornate plate mail. He flips down the visor on his helmet and holds Excalibur aloft.
You are someone else
I’m still right here
Nate Colton opens his eyes, and all he can see is pink. His face is bruised, his heart causing him pain in every waking moment. He reaches out a hand, to Skye, to Jenny, even to his Dad. The hand that reaches out for him though is adorned with Pretty Pink nail polish. As the camera follows up to where Jonathan-Christopher Hall is standing next to Vickie, Nate sees himself in Jonathan-Christopher’s eyes.
What have I become?
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know goes away
In the end
As a tale of the tape of Ivan Stanislav and Brandon Youngblood shows on the screen, the stalwart ring announcers voice over the video.
Nick Stuart: Can you believe this Richard? Two of the most dominant forces in the history of our sport are finally going toe to toe!
Richard Parker: Will the Diamond do it once again or will the world stand in unison with Praporshchik Stanlislav?
Vince Howard: THE FINAL MATCH OF THE EVENING IS FOR THE PRIME UNIVERSAL TITLE!
And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt
Two men. Two legacies. Divergent Goals. One to reclaim past glory and establish a new reign and the other to cement his place in history as the unquestioned best of the best.
Ivan Stanislav steps forward, proud, dutiful, and ready. Can he defeat Brandon Youngblood, a man who has been a thorn in his side for months?
Brandon Youngblood steps forward, resolute, powerful, and explosive. Can he defeat Ivan Stanislav, a man who has proven time and again why he is the number one contender?
If I could start again
A million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way…
With the last ghostly word of the song, these words appear on the screen:
Welcome to UltraViolence 2023.
ALIAS TITLE MATCH: TONY GAMBLE (C) VS. CHANDLER TSONDA
Fireworks explode throughout the Soldier Field as we see tens of thousands of fans in the crowd, all with their… SIGNS!
I’M HERE FOR TEAM DUMP TRUCKS
THANK GOD IM GOING TO NIGHT TWO
THIS GUY SMELLS LIKE SEWER DICKS —–>
<——-THIS GUY IS THE REASON I SMELL LIKE SEWER DICKS
WILL THERE BE CAKE IN THE MAIN EVENT?!?!
CAKE FOR THE CAKE GODS
HEY CLARENCE! FUCK YOU!!
HANLON HAD DUMPS LIKE A TRUCK, TRUCK, TRUCK
THIGHS LIKE WHAT, WHAT, WHAT
JARED, MOVE YOUR BUTT, BUTT, BUTT
UH, I THINK I’LL SIGN IT AGAIN
SOLDIER FIELD IS BEING REBRANDED FOR THE FF7 REBIRTH LAUNCH AND WILL BE KNOWN AS SOLDIER FIELD
TWO RIOTS FOR GAMBLE OR WE DOUBLE DOG RIOT
LET’S CELEBRATE ALL VICTORIES WITH DINNER AND DANCING AT TACO BELL AFTERWARDS
The opening match graphic appears as the crowd builds their own hype amongst each other. The feed goes to ringside.
Vince Howard: This is the opening bout and it is for…
Howard raises the mic high in the air as the crowd lets him know.
The Crowd: ONE FALL!!!!
Richard Parker: Going into business for ourselves Vince, are we?
Nick Stuart: Oh, c’mon! Have some fun and loosen up. It’s the start of a great show! This whole “one fall” thing trended on social media for a couple days. Heaven forbid Vince has a little fun and keeps the crowd going.
Vince Howard: And it is for the Alias Championship! Introducing first…
THUNK THUNK THUNK.
The rolling sequence of lights going out.
Nick Stuart: Folks, just bear with us. The lights are out at Soldier Field but-
If you don’t know by now, I’m talkin’ ‘bout Chi-Town
Even in the dark, the confusing “did somebody not pay the light bill” dark, Chicago knows how to let out the biggest pop in American professional wrestling. Especially for themselves. Especially, even with its light cringe elements, for “Homecoming” by Kanye West, who tragically passed away several years ago and never did or said anything unforgivable that would ruin this song or his legacy.
Do you think about me now and then?
‘Cause I’m comin’ home again
With the thump of bass, and the dancing of the keys, the outer lights of the stadium come back. But they’re neon green.
Maybe you, do you remember when
Fireworks at Lake Michigan
Oh, now I’m comin’ home again
Maybe we can start again
The sound drops out on the last word, and the phrase echoes, as another inner ring alights. Green again.
Richard Parker: Is that freakin’ Packers green?
A voice in the dark. But based on the feedback, and the familiar voice, this isn’t a recording. This is live, baby.
“The Chicago skyline was beautiful on fire.”
“All twisted metal stretching upwards
Everything washed in a thin orange haze.”
More lights. This time washed in gold. Smoke machines in overdrive.
A massive stagelight pours down on the top of the ramp. Fog curls and obscures the speaking voice. The PRIMEView remains black.
“I said ‘kiss me, you’re beautiful’
These are truly the last days”
The smoke parts. He steps into the light, holding the microphone.
Yes, he just did the voiceover to his own intro.
The tinkling as an acoustic guitar is picked.
Chandler Tsonda: Chicago, I said these are truly the last. Fucking. Days.
And over the roar of the crowd, finally, comes the thundering drums and electric guitar as Coheed & Cambria’s “Welcome Home” thunders to life. With it, green and gold pyro lights up the night sky, as the stadium comes back to full illumination.
Nick Stuart: Listen to that ovation!
Richard Parker: Cheap pops are for cheap whores. So this fits.
The usual self-satisfied smirk from the Model Citizen is replaced by a million-watt smile. He soaks in the adoration, and that “top of the show we’re ready to go effing nuts” energy from the crowd.
Nick Stuart: If I’m not mistaken, the last time Tsonda stood at the top of that ramp in this stadium was the final show of the ReVolution era! Talk about a homecoming.
The crowd volume is immense. “Welcome Home” thrashes.
But it’s time for another surprise.
Another voice, cutting the music short.
“Coming to your ring, like some kind of jerky butt old man Pauly D…”
It’s Johnnie Newsman, ring announcer to the stars. He’s got a mic, and Vince Howard looks on with the body language of a hostage.
Johnnie Newsman: Number one contender for belt because of so much generous champion, so much generous this champion like giving tree!
Tsonda stares a hole in Newsman from the top of the ramp, cracking his knuckles. To the GAS member’s credit, he doesn’t cower.
Johnnie Newsman: This man weight? Like one fifty, but not strong. Frail little man, maybe have consumption.
The Model Citizen begins his walk to the ring.
Johnnie Newsman: He from San Francisco or something. Place for babies and wimps. Everybody homeless. Self-driving car murder you POW! He hail from that.
Tsonda nods, taking to himself. He’s looking past Newsman and seems now to be locking in for the match, accepting that while Gamble may have played another round of mind games, it’s time for a fight.
Johnnie Newsman: Anyway, he is Mortal Citizen. Chandler Two-sonda. Do not clap, he hate Chicago.
You can’t keep the good people of Chicago from getting one more vociferous pop for the Sultan of Style. Tsonda stays on the outside, pacing back and forth in front of the announce table, when right on cue, the crowd reaction goes the other way.
Soon, the cheers become boos when Vince Howard is able to speak again.
Vince Howard: And his opponent…
Where my heart is, rests my very soul
And the colors bleed from blue to gold
“Born For This” by Divide Music starts to play through the speakers as Tony Gamble and Johnnie Newsman step out from behind the curtain, soaking in the chorus of boos that rain down from the crowd.
When the choice is mine and mine alone
I won’t give in even if you break my bones
Vince Howard: Comi-
Johnnie Newsman: I am so so sorry, really I am, but you can no do. Thees ees my job now, Vinny.
Nick Stuart: See, this is why it’s okay to allow Vince a moment at the beginning with this “one fall” stuff, Rich. Poor guy can’t get a word in edgewise!
Richard Parker: Whatever.
I won’t give in ‘till your sins have been atoned
All I see is the flickering lights below me
Tony stretches his arms out wide, welcoming the crowd’s form of adoration as Johnnie continues to speak and his music plays. The Gamble Championship fastened firmly around his waist.
All I need is the power to change what I see
If I can give a little, not a second thought
Johnnie Newsman: Coming to your ring, with weight of one hundred and thee eighty nine pounds of lean, healthy muskulls on a man.
If I’m stuck in the middle, I will take the shot, woah
All I wanna be, yeah
Tony makes his way down the ramp, ignoring the few smarks in the crowd that actually do like him. They reach their arms out, awaiting a slap of acknowledgement that will never come, as Johnnie stays at the top of the ramp.
Yeah, I was born for this
I will keep my secrets high above
Johnnie Newsman: He thee capotabola!
In the hopes to protect the ones I love
But I wonder where in darkness lies the truth
Johnnie Newsman: Number won in your heart!
Of the one who took their lives, you can’t excuse
I don’t fear you, I won’t let you take my home
Tony climbs the steps, looking out at the fans that have not quieted down at all since he stepped out from behind the curtain. They love to hate him, even more so as he slaps the face of the title a few times.
I will climb through to wherever you may roam
I won’t give in, you can even break my bones
Johnnie Newsman: Only man to half title with his name!
What is within is a strength you’ll never know
Johnnie Newsman: TOOOOOOOOOOOONYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!
All I see is the flickering lights below me
All I need is the power to change what I see
He steps in between the middle and top ropes to get into the ring, making his way to the center.
Johnnie Newsman: THEEEEE GRRRRRRIIIINNNNNNNN!!
If I can give a little, not a second thought
If I’m stuck in the middle, I will take the shot, woah
He drops down to one knee, unfastening the Gamble Championship from around his waist as he does.
Johnnie Newsman: GAAAAAAAAMMBLLLLLLEEEEE!!
All I wanna be, yeah
He stretches his arms out once again, then throws back his head to stare at the title he lifts up above his head.
Yeah, I was born for this
Gamble’s theme and entrance come to a close, leaving the crowd white hot for the bout to begin. The ref holds the title high, fans take their pictures.
LET’S GO CHANDLER!
LET’S GO CHANDLER!
LET’S GO CHANDLER!
Nick Stuart: Once this bell goes-
Tsonda and Gamble lock up! Gamble works Tsonda into a quick hammerlock but Tsonda drops his base and slings Gamble over his shoulder. Tsonda breaks free and hits the ropes, coming across with a roundhouse kick to Gamble and knocking the champ down. The crowd gives a loud cheer as the challenger waits for Gamble to rise before he kicks him right back down again!
The champion is on his feet and this time Tsonda delivers a strong right forearm to the side of the head. He works Gamble into a corner with numerous forearms and elbow strikes, before Irish whipping Gamble into the corner across the way. Tony hits the buckle, pops out of the corner and then Tsonda comes racing in with another hard roundhouse kick, knocking The Grin to the mat!
The crowd cheers as Tsonda hits a leg drop and goes for a pin…
Nick Stuart: I doubt that pin was meant to get the three but otherwise it’s sending a message: this match can end at any time. Gamble has to be on his best game!
Tsonda kips to his feet. He waits on Gamble to rise and then performs a leg sweep followed by an elbow drop. However, once Tsonda’s elbow meets Gamble on the mat, Tony works Chandler into an arm bar submission!
Tsonda tries to reach the ropes with his feet but he can’t seem to get there. Instead, he falls to the mat and attempts to reach the arm that’s locked into the arm bar with his free hand… when suddenly he is on his knees and rolls Gamble into a pin!
Gamble drops the arm bar quickly and shifts into an upright position. Tony ducks a roundhouse kick from Tsonda and then tackles Chandler to the mat, unloading punches!
The referee asks for a break since these are closed shots but Gamble likely pretends he can’t hear the request, since the crowd continues to be a buzz with the opening contest. The champion finally does remove himself from Tsonda but waits on the challenger to get to his feet.
…Then latches onto The Model Citizen’s waist and delivers a wicked looking German suplex!
Tsonda lands on his head and doesn’t move a muscle!
Gamble walks over, rolls Tsonda onto his back and hooks a leg.
BARELY A SHOULDER UP!
Tsonda still looks DOA as Gamble drags the challenger to his feet and connects with an atomic drop, followed by bouncing off the ropes-
And eating a pump kick from out of nowhere!
Richard Parker: How did Tsonda have that in him? He looked TKO’ed a moment ago!
Tsonda whips Gamble into the ropes and meets him over there with a clothesline. Both take a tumble out of the ring, with Chandler unfortunately knocking his head off the side of the apron.
Tsonda falls beside Gamble, rubbing the side of his head. Tony takes a moment, sees the position Chandler is in and then grabs him by the arm-
And throws Tsonda into the steel steps knees first!
Tsonda bounces off the steps, up and over while crashing down on the other side of them.
Richard Parker: Good! This should limit the leg strikes from Chandler moving forward!
Gamble gives his neck a crack as he marches over and collects Tsonda. He rolls the hero into the ring and then enters himself but once Tony pops his head through the top and middle rope-
A superkick from Tsonda! A desperate one, of course, as Tsonda falls to the mat and Gamble falls out of the ring!
The crowd stomps their feet, wanting Tsonda to find his feet sooner than later. Gamble is the first to recover, though. He’s back on the apron and working his way through the ropes…
Chandler is on his feet! He aims for another kick but this time Tony was playing possum as the champion snatches Tsonda’s leg and throws it down into the ropes while also falling off the apron deliberately in the process!
Richard Parker: I like that!
Chandler shouts in pain as he falls to the canvas and grabs his knee. Gamble has a determined look on his face as he hops onto the apron and then climbs the turnbuckle. He measures Tsonda on the canvas and leaps off with a leg drop, draping his own leg across Tsonda’s knee he was holding onto for dear life.
Tsonda shouts out again as Gamble lifts his opponent and connects with a snap suplex. Gamble rolls on the mat and finds Tsonda’s legs… locking him into a figure four!
Nick Stuart: A smart move by Tony. We have no idea what kind of pain Chandler is in right now and if there is significant damage to his knee… even worse!
Tsonda tries to fight towards the ropes as the crowd cheers him on but once he gets close…
Gamble drops the figure four, delivers an elbow to the back of Tsonda’s head and walks both of them back to the center of the ring!
Figure four is re-applied!
Until it’s not! Until almost immediately after Tsonda rolls over and applies the pressure the other way around!
LET’S GO CHANDLER!
LET’S GO CHANDLER!
LET’S GO CHANDLER!
Nick Stuart: And this time Chandler was ready for Tony!
Gamble is closer to the ropes than Tsonda was. He reaches out… he’s almost got them…
It looks like Tony might tap but he does grab the ropes!
Chandler breaks the hold and rolls to the middle of the canvas, holding his own right knee. He starts hammering his knee, trying to get the blood flow back into it. The referee asks Chandler if he can continue and Tsonda nods “yes”.
Nick Stuart: Perhaps Tsonda isn’t as injured as I thought he was, but there’s definitely a target on his knee now.
Gamble is up first as he marches over to Tsonda and grabs the leg for a figure four… when he’s rolled into a small package!
Nick Stuart: You could tell Tsonda didn’t have the best pinfall attempt! His knee gave way and allowed Tony Gamble to actually kickout. Otherwise, I think he might’ve had him!
Richard Parker: Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve. Jeesh, I could do this all day if I wanted, Nick. Call the match the way it is. Tony Gamble kicked out. Period.
Both men are on their feet as Tsonda goes for a hard chop against Gamble’s chest. He works Gamble into a corner and then rifles the champion to the corner across the way. Tsonda races in with a big elbow to the head, snatches Gamble’s skull and places it in-between his arm and body… connecting with a running bulldog!
Tsonda rolls to his feet along with Gamble in the same position as he was before, except this time Chandler is facing towards the rest of the champion’s body.
Nick Stuart: That stalling implant DDT! It might do it!
Tsonda places Gamble onto his back for a pin…
Tsonda slides into another position and in the center of the ring he places Gamble into a cobra clutch hold!
The look on Tony Gamble’s face, when he sees where he is, and how far away he is from the ropes…
Nick Stuart: We might have a new champion!
Gamble looks like he’s going to tap when-
Tsonda’s knee gives out from under him! The challenger falls to the side and the hold is broken!
You can see the disappointment on Chandler Tsonda’s face! He holds his leg and tries to hit Tony Gamble with… something. Anything! But the challenger can’t reach the champion…
Gamble hits the ropes and comes across with a huge leaping spear! Gamble peels Tsonda off the mat and connects with a belly-to-belly suplex and then a falcon arrow suplex! A hook of the leg and…
The crowd roars but Gamble won’t let them back into the match. He maneuvers around Tsonda’s body and works the challenger into a half-legged Boston crab on the bad knee!
Nick Stuart: Back to the hurting body part, it was only a matter of time!
Richard Parker: It’s over, Nick! I see Chandler tapping, yes!
Nick Stuart: No, you do not.
Richard Parker: Right. My mistake! But it’ll happen soon if he doesn’t get to the ropes!
Tsonda is fighting to get there. Since it’s only a half-legged crab and Tsonda has his good leg free and under him… he IS able to move Tony Gamble!
The Model Citizen is fighting… fighting… fighting… he’s almost there.
Gamble takes a better hold of the leg and starts moving towards the center of the ring!
No! Tsonda breaks free and the crowd cheers wildly! Chandler pops to his feet and finds a desperation knee breaker to Gamble! Both men are down!
The crowd continues to rally behind the challenger as both men work to a crawling base. It is Tony Gamble who’s up first but only because Chandler Tsonda tried and fell back down because of that bad right knee. Gamble goes for a chop block to the knee but at the last second Tsonda jumps out of the way and lands on his one good foot. He’s hopping around, thinking about going for a kick but knows he doesn’t have it in him so instead Tsonda leaps in the air and delivers a strange looking cutter to Gamble.
Nick Stuart: Not sure if Tsonda got all of it!
Richard Parker: He didn’t. He definitely didn’t!
But with the crowd behind him, The Viet Viper uses the ropes to rise. He hammers down on his right knee again and this time it seems to be working. Well, at least as good as Chandler can ask, as he roars forward and connects with a spinning heel kick to Gamble.
Tsonda slams his hands against the mat. He’s working into another mode right now as he pops back up and leaps into the ropes, coming across Gamble’s body with a lionsault and pin!
Tsonda thought it was over, the crowd thought it was over, and Tony Gamble uses the SPLIT SECOND Chandler was off his game to his advantage with an elbow to the side of the head, followed by a leaping, high angle DDT and then going right back to Tsonda’s knee with a bunch of kicks.
Chandler shouts. He reaches for the ropes in the hopes to pull himself up and away from everything going on but he’s too far. Gamble helps lift Tsonda to his feet but not in an ideal way. Gamble takes hold of Tsonda’s good leg and tucks it behind itself as he wraps his arms around Tsonda’s body and then drops the challenger and all of his own weight against the bad leg/knee.
Tsonda screams! Gamble is going to do it again as he lifts Tsonda into the air when suddenly Tsonda wraps his legs around Gamble’s neck with a hurricanrana into a pin!
VERY LAST SECOND KICKOUT!
Tsonda with a follow-up elbow strike and both men fall to the mat! The crowd cheers as Tsonda crawls to a corner and uses the buckle to pull himself up. He decides he’s going for it all. He’s going for broke! With one knock into his bad knee, Chandler Tsonda climbs the ropes and stands on top of it. It looks like he can balance well…
When Tony Gamble makes a play! Gamble is on his feet and the champion runs over, climbing the top rope, too!
Nick Stuart: This is extremely dangerous!
Richard Parker: Tsonda’s an idiot.
Nick Stuart: They’re BOTH up there!
Gamble connects with a forearm shot and Tsonda follows with a headbutt. Neither man is looking to lay down. However, Chandler hits Gamble with two consecutive headbutts. Tony is forced to fall/semi-jump off the turnbuckle pad to the floor below, outside the ring.
In a swift second…
Nick Stuart: Oh my! Tsonda with The Model Citizen moonsault onto Gamble!
Tsonda leans over and still with one difficult wheel, he plucks Gamble from the floor and tosses him into the ring!
Tsonda begins to climb back to that same top rope he recently flew off of!
With the champion motionless in the middle of the ring… Chandler Tsonda measures.
Model Citizen lands BULLSEYE!
Tsonda hooks both legs and looks up into the ceiling!
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: The winner of this match AND NNNNNNNNNNNNEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWW Alias Champion… CHANDLER TSONDA!!!
Tsonda’s theme plays as the crowd stands giving a roaring ovation. Meanwhile, Tsonda limps to his feet and is handed his brand new championship strap. He holds it up, almost putting full weight on his bad leg.
Nick Stuart: That’s fighting spirit! Chandler is going to sleep well tonight!
Richard Parker: I won’t be!
Tsonda walks over to the same corner of the ring he hit two moonsaults from. He climbs and raises the belt while Tony Gamble recovers at the side of the squared circle.
Nick Stuart: A solid back-and-forth affair. In the end, we have the same outcome as Ultra Violence 2008!
Richard Parker: Great. Glad I wasn’t there.
Nick Stuart: But you were there.
Richard Parker: Can we go to the next match yet?
A LUMBERBANDIT ENCOUNTER
Instead, PRIME’s cameras cut to a darkened corridor, featureless save for wisps of smoke. A silhouette slowly approaches from the darkness, and when he speaks, it’s very clear who it is.
Coral Avalon: Cancer Jiles.
The last time Coral Avalon appeared in this way, he’d been painted up for war. Not so much this time. In fact, he’s not even in his leonine entrance gear. He’s just in a T-shirt and jeans. Forehead’s still the same, though.
Coral Avalon: I know you’re not paying attention to me right now. So, really, I know that this is just me talking to empty air.
Coral Avalon: In other words, you’ll miss my friendly warning. A shame.
His smile fades, though his expression suggests that this isn’t as much of a shame as Coral would have you believe. There’s no such thing as a “poker forehead”.
Coral Avalon: You had your heart set on a King becoming a Bandit. And I get it, really, I do. I’m a lot more accomplished around here than your usual crowd, like Bobby and TV’s Peacemaker and, uh… wait, what was his name again?
His stony façade fades as he looks like he’s really trying to remember someone’s name.
Coral Avalon: Lunchbreak Leopold?
You’d think Coral would remember since he faced him earlier this year, but, well… apparently not.
Coral Avalon: No, that’s probably not his name. Dammit, nevermind. I’m getting off track.
He sighs, looking up at the ceiling.
Coral Avalon: My point is, Jiles, if you want me to be a Bandit… you can’t just say I’m a Bandit. That’s too easy. No, you have to earn me. You have to… NO! Not this again! I’m in the dungeon for a reason!
Suddenly, there is a commotion, and a boisterous mob of people make their way through Coral’s shot. They are all talking and arguing amongst themselves, oblivious to the goings on around them. Some of them are noticeable. Some of them are not. One of the men who is, happens to be Robert Dean.
Bobby Dean: Where the heck is he? He told us to get here early so we could go over the entrance one last time, but he’s not here.
Laser: What room did he say the eGG Den was in again?
Chris Chickentenders: Pretty sure he said it was in Mom’s dressing room.
Bobby Dean: Wait. Is this even the right night? Leave it to me to show up on the wrong night.
The mob goes quiet.
Coral, who happens to be privy to all of this taking place because it is conveniently happening right in front of him, attempts to quell the confusion.
Coral Avalon: If you’re looking for who I think you are, then you guys got the wrong night.
An awkward tension takes over, as the mob, aka, the Lumberbandits, notice who it is that’s talking to them.
Bobby Dean: This is night one, isn’t it?
Coral Avalon: Yes, it is.
The Bandits, sans Bobby and Coral, all groan because they listened to Bobby Dean. Par for the course.
Bobby Dean: Damn, well, sorry to have ruined your shot.
Coral Avalon: No big deal.
Bobby Dean: Cool.
The awkward silence from before where nobody knew if there was going to be a fight or not quickly comes back. This time around it is the sound of Bobby’s cell phone ringing that breaks the tension. Luckily for all it wasn’t a fart. Robert fishes out his phone from his pocket, checks the number and immediately looks at Coral. He holds the phone up to reveal it’s Jiles, aka KING CRUMB in Bob’s phone, who is probably watching this whole thing go down from the comforts of where ever the fuck he is.
Bobby Dean: I think it’s for you.
The Crownless King smiles, but shakes his head no.
Coral Avalon: Do me a favor then and tell him I’ll talk to him tomorrow night.
The Man from Honalee frowns.
Bobby Dean: Fine. That’s not very Bandit-like, you know.
Coral laughs, and then begins to walk away.
Coral Avalon: Maybe after tomorrow night, I’ll give a f–.
A collective gasp can be heard from the Banditjacks. What can not be heard though, is Bobby’s phone ringing.
It would appear as if Jiles had hung up.
The camera cuts to the announcers’ table where Nick Stuart and Richard Parker sit alongside a rather pale masked wrestler.
Nick Stuart: And we’re back folks, ringside at Soldier Field where we are joined now by a man who needs no introduction…
Richard Parker: so, let’s not give him one.
Nick Stuart: The Anglo Luchador, Tom Battaglia. What do you think of the event so far?
TAL: Thanks, Nick. I know we’re just underway, but what a way to kick off with that Alias title fight. I tell you, I am always impressed by Chandler Tsonda. He just seems to make the right moves when it matters, and tonight it clearly mattered as he and Tony Gamble vied for control of PRIME’s newest, and in some ways most interesting, title.
Nick Stuart: So true, so true. But you’re not just here tonight for color commentary I understand. What’s happening here? I see what appears to be a talk-show style desk and chair arrangement mid-ring, along with lighting equipment. Are we getting an early visit from Kennade Starr before her match with-
Richard Parker: Everyone’s favorite furry. Er… Scaly?
Nick Stuart: Rocky de Leon.
The camera cuts to the ring to display what looks like a Dollar General tier replica of the Tonight Show main stage.
Nick Stuart: Speaking of, there he comes now!
Rocky bounds down the ramp to Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard. In addition to his typical ring attire, he is wearing a collar and necktie without a shirt attached. Instead of his usual top rope flippy shit, Rocky politely waves and chuckles at the audience before sitting down at the desk and making polite SKREEs with the lower rows.
TAL: Well, gentlemen, tonight I’m not really here for commentary at all – I’m a translator.
Richard Parker: Oh god.
TAL: Rocky asked me to come down tonight and aid him in interviewing a fellow wrestler since, as you know, I speak Skree. I wouldn’t necessarily say I was happy to oblige, but two things. First, I think PRIME will get a better product out of this segment if it’s in English, and second, well, I really didn’t want to stew in the back for the entire time before I’m in across a ring from a murderous gator who thinks I wronged his family.
Nick Stuart: Good points all around. Good points.
Rocky de Leon: Skree skree skree SKREEEEEEEEEE skree.
TAL: Welcome to PRIME’s newest most popular live streamed segment, Rock Talk with Rocky de Leon.
Rocky de Leon: Skree skree SKREEee skree…
TAL: And everyone please give a big hand and warm welcome to my first guest…
The camera pans to the ramp entrance. Silence. No one comes through.
Rocky de Leon: skreeeee…
TAL: to my first guest…
A cricket chirps. Camera cuts to Rocky who tugs on his dickey-collar and bounces nervously.
Rocky de Leon: SKREEEEE….
TAL: TO MY FIRST GUEST…
Richard Parker: This is just freaking embarrassing.
Nick Stuart: Oh hush, Richard, technical difficulties happen to everyone.
An explosion is heard and smoke billows out of the tunnel. As it clears, Kennade Starr comes bounding out followed by a Mr. Bubbles
Kennade Starr: OH NO YOU DON’T, YOU SON OF A BITCH!
Nick Stuart: What’s this, folks?! Kennade Starr and her bodyguard bubbles have made their way into the arena!
Richard Parker: Someone tell me when we get back to wrestling and the “influencers” are done with their insta shoot.
Kennade Starr: Did you really think I would just sit here and let you take MY limelight? Let you take over MY role here?! TAKE CARE OF IT, BUBBLES!
Mr. Bubbles thunders toward the ring and rolls under the bottom rope. He raises two meaty fists before bringing them down upon Rocky’s desk. The desktop breaks in half and the furniture collapses as Bubbles places his attention on the chairs, turning his back on Rocky.
Rocky shakes violently and his body turns red. He quickly climbs the nearest turnstyle, flips off, and dives feet first at Bubbles’ head! As he connects, Bubbles stumbles to the floor, and Rocky lets out a mighty
Rocky de Leon: SKREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!
TAL: Fight your own fight, you tweeny bopper candy-ass! Don’t send others to do your dirty work! I will not stand by and allow yet another instance of unbridled cheating and rule breaking in this institution. It’s time to take out the trash!
Nick Stuart: Hell of a skree.
TAL: I know, right? Listen, guys, uh, I’m just going to… I’m gonna go. I didn’t sign up for this. I’ll see you in an hour or so.
Richard Parker: Oh, sure, you would bail when it gets interesting.
Nick Stuart: And would you look at that, Ashley Barlow has entered the ring and
ROCKY DE LEON VS. KENNADE STARR
Nick Stuart: …and it looks like we’re wasting no time getting this one underway, folks!
Richard Parker: You don’t say? And here I thought our paying audience was eager to see more of the Tonight Show featuring the Screeching Scaly. It’s a wrestling Pay Per View, after all.
On the stage, the Anglo Luchador quietly slips past an aghast Kennade Starr on his way backstage. On the ringside floor, still shaken by the FDP’s act of high-flying intensi-SKREE, Mr. Bubbles is slow to get back to his feet.
The KStarr fans around the world watching her livestream are treated to many seconds of indiscernible shaky cam footage when Kennade hurries down to ringside to where her butler is on the mend. The tens of thousands of screaming PRIMEates filling Soldier Field, on the other hand, see a young, flustered streamer scrambling down the ramp regain control of the situation before it descends any further into chaos.
Nick Stuart: Mr. Bubbles looks very slow to recover right now. Did you see something I didn’t when he fell to the floor?
Richard Parker: What I saw was King Kong over there taking a nasty spill and landing on his head. I’m not sure even his extraordinarily thicker-than-average-human-being skull could dull that blow.
Starr shrieks at Rocky when she arrives at ringside, but the FDP is fired up and eager to keep up the pace. Barlow’s ten count is interrupted at the five when de Leon scrambles up another turnbuckle and dives off the moment the rising Mr. Bubbles stands up and rears his head back.
Nick Stuart: PTERICANRANA!! TO THE OUTSIDE!!
Rocky’s legscissor to the head of Mr. Bubbles doesn’t quite roll KStarr’s butler to the floor, but sends him into motion.
Right for the post.
Nick Stuart: OH MY!! Bubbles went head first right into that steel post!
Richard Parker: I bet anything he’ll be waking up tomorrow with a headache.
Witnessing this course of events prompts Kennade’s palm to slap her forehead before she falls back onto the floor herself, legs outstretched into the air. Meanwhile, the crowd is roaring for Rocky, and the flying dino fanatic is feeding off their energy.
But then comes the matter of bringing the social media star’s hulking butler back into the ring, which given Rocky’s size, is understandably easier said than done. After a few unsuccessful attempts to pull Mr. Bubbles up by his limbs, the FDP settles for a front facelock to pull the big man up.
Richard Parker: Bet he wishes his favorite dinosaur was something like a t-rex or a brontosaurus right now. I don’t think pterodactyls were renowned for their incredible lifting power.
Nick Stuart: Official Ashley Barlow is currently midway through the ten count! Rocky de Leon would understandably want to press his advantage right now, before whatever power Kennade Starr has over his butler takes effect!
With a bit of perseverance, Rocky pulls Mr. Bubbles up to his feet…
…and much to his surprise, his own feet leave the floor, when the colossus wakes up and stands to full height with the FDP still hanging around his head and neck.
Nick Stuart: Uh oh!
Effortlessly, Mr. Bubbles flings Rocky through the ropes and back into the ring. Across the ring, Kennade cackles in triumph, turning her phone on herself and leaning against the apron to pose for her viewers. In the ring behind, her “opponent” quickly scrambles to his feet.
The monster of a man that is Starr’s butler methodically pulls himself up to the apron, pausing for a beat to shake the cobwebs out a bit more.
Richard Parker: Mighty Joe Young is looking mighty hungry right now!
Nick Stuart: Rocky de Leon has been on a roll since the bell rang, but despite some lucky breaks, Mr. Bubbles won’t stay down for long!
Rocky doesn’t look the gift horse in the mouth, hitting the opposite ropes for some momentum. When the butler sees him returning, he raises his arms to protect his head. However, de Leon throws him a curve ball in the form of a double dropkick straight into the breadbasket.
Mr. Bubbles’ beady eyes bulge comically from his skull as the wind instantly gets knocked out of him. He doubles over the top rope, and gives Rocky a clear shot. In a flash, vaults himself into the ropes and comes off in a picturesque backflip.
Nick Stuart: SOMERSAULT LEGDROP across the back of the head! What a maneuver!
Richard Parker: I’m not sure how much brains ol’ Sasquatch had to begin with, but he’s not going to have much left after tonight if this keeps up!
Mr. Bubbles rolls the rest of the way over the ropes and falls onto his back, eyes glazed over. Kennade Starr has again forgotten her livestream, recognizing that the dino-dressed daredevil is still on his feet and getting the attention of thousands of raucous fans. She hurries around to get a closer view of the action.
Nick Stuart: Rocky de Leon is a house on fire right now! This capacity crowd is firmly behind him! Could he pull off a miracle here tonight and defeat Kennade Starr’s seemingly unstoppable monstrous butler?
Richard Parker: And Kennade looks like she has no idea what to do with herself right now! Although I can’t tell if she’s more upset that her manservant is getting his head danced on or if she’s losing viewers from all this!
Nick Stuart: Mr. Bubbles has not moved from the mat after that kick to the back of his head, and Rocky de Leon is not about to slow things down to give him the chance to get up again! He’s going right back to the turnbuckle… climbing to the top…!
Nick Stuart: DINO SPLASH CONNECTS!!
The crowd roars as Rocky de Leon perfectly lands the high-angle senton and rolls straight to his feet. Either by the impact to his chest or Kennade’s frenzied pounding on the mat from ringside, Mr. Bubbles is stirred into moving again. Slowly, he works to his feet, but Rocky is waiting for him in the corner.
By the time Starr’s butler rises up, the FDP parkours up the ropes and dives backwards. The forearm connects square between the eyes, and Mr. Bubbles falls to the mat again with a resounding boom!
Nick Stuart: THE FLYING SQUIRREL!! THIS COULD BE IT!!
De Leon runs around and grabs Mr. Bubbles by the legs. Starr reaches in under the ropes, arms grasping for his ankle…
…but before she can get to it, the FDP flips over into a jacknife pin!
Nick Stuart: Rocky with the cover!
DING DING DING
The crowd pops. Rocky bounds to his feet and allows Ashley to raise his arm in victory. At ringside, Kennade Starr stands in stunned silence before falling to her knees and wailing to the heavens. When her phone falls from her fan, crying emojis flash across the screen.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, the winner of the match, by pinfall… ROOOCKYYYY DEEE LEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOONNN!!!
Nick Stuart: A great victory for Rocky de Leon here tonight at UltraViolence, getting one over the recent thorn in his side in Kennade Starr!
Richard Parker: I’m stunned, Nick. Not just by seeing Gigantopithecus get beat by anyone… but seeing it so one-sided!
Nick Stuart: Well, to be fair, Rocky got in a lucky hit before the bell that definitely affected the flow of this match from the onset. But to his credit, he stayed on task, and never gave his opponent a chance to take control.
Richard Parker: Maybe. But I guess the lesson to be learned here is… NEVER interrupt Rock Talk.
Nick Stuart: We’re going to need a quick break to clean up the remains of this talk show set out of the ring, but before we get back to the action, ladies and gentlemen, let’s hear a quick word from the sponsor’s to this monumental event!
COMMERCIAL: 24 HOUR RULE
KENNY FREEMAN ADDRESSES THE ALMASY
After that paid word from our sponsors (or something along those lines) we cut to a pre-taped vignette where…oh no, not this again.
Kenny Freeman is standing by, and it looks like he has something to say. Again. There is no sign of any fancy music-making devices nearby this time, however, so we may have gotten out of an absolute disaster as Kenny begins to speak.
Kenny Freeman: Good evening, Chicago! Tomorrow night sees our glorious leader Ivan Stanislav conquer Brandon Youngface to become the new PRIME Universal Champion…but tonight,your Bang! All Day Multiversal Champion is here to address a few things.
The crowd inside Soldier Field boo in disapproval of the earlier statement, but considering this is a pretape Kenny pays them no mind…rather, he is simply checking his teleprompter for the next bit he’s prepared for himself before speaking once again.
Kenny Freeman: First and foremost, there is the matter of our fiercest rivals, or at least the fiercest rivals that are still in PRIME…the Glue Man Group. The winds of change are upon us, folks, and it is time that we finally settle things the way they should be settled…in that very ring.
The crowd seems to like that idea, giving a pop as Kenny continues.
Kenny Freeman: So, let’s be gentlemen about this and have ourselves some Gentlemen’s Games, shall we? Fontaine, Phillips, feel free to ask your pal Cecilworth what that’s all about, I’m sure he’ll be happy to oblige with the information you seek. Anyway. Now that I’ve once again ADDRESSED MY ENEMIES…it’s time to ADDRESS THE ALMASY.
The crowd is definitely on board with this now, cheering the mention of the tournament as Kenny presses on.
Kenny Freeman: When I joined PRIME alongside my buddy Randall Schwartz last year, we had completely missed out on the Almasy Invitational…but with the tournament running into Colossus this year, the time is right for your boy to go and win himself a fancy trophy and whatever prizes may come with it. You may be wondering, how hyped is Kenny Freeman for this tournament? Well…
Oh. Oh, no.
Kenny Freeman: …I’ve got just the song to tell you.
Hoyt help us all, there’s music blaring in the background…music that sounds an awful lot like Jackon 5’s hit single “ABC” as Kenny begins singing.
♫ In just two weeks we’re starting
A tourney called the Almasy
The invitations are going out
And I expect one for me
Now now now
I’m gonna tell you
How I’m gonna win this
Sit yourself down, PRIMEates
And just listen to what I say ♫
We see Randall Schwartz somewhere in the background providing vocals on the chorus of this soon to be certified banger as Kenny continues.
♫ Almasy, I’m gonna get the
1 2 3, so simple that
Kenny Freeman’s gonna be
the winner of the Almasy
Almasy, you know I’m gonna get the
1 2 3, it’s so simple that
Kenny Freeman’s gonna be
the winner of the Almasy ♫
The music continues but Kenny’s audio seems to be cut off after that as we start to fade out…are we falling asleep, or just cutting away to the next thing on this exciting night of action?
Psst, it’s the latter.
THE MEAL MAKES THE MAN
In his dressing room backstage, Scott Hunter is sitting on the bench wedged into his locker digging through his dark blue duffle bag. His associate and sometimes friend Craig Massey is standing over him.
Rooting around, Scott gets more and more agitated.
Scott Hunter: Whipped cream and licorice! I forgot to pack my pre-match snack for tonight!
Scott doesn’t have a match tonight.
Craig Massey: You don’t have a match tonight.
Scott ignores Craig.
Scott Hunter: This is terrible. I get so cranky when I have the munchies. And sleepy. I can’t sleep during a match! That would be ridiculous! Those ring mats are not comfortable to sleep on. I learned that the hard way.
Scott thinks back to a time when he was choked out on one of those mats. It was a memory that brings back so many feelings, so many doubts and inadequacies. He wonders if that moment in time was formative in deciding who he has become as an adult. It was just last week though, so that doesn’t make any sense. This does not stop Scott as he looks off wistfully into the distance.
Scott Hunter: That was a sad day…
Craig Massey: What was a sad day?
Craig looks at him questioningly, but Scott’s ever piercing gaze into the ether cannot be interrupted. Indeed, a slightly sad expression crosses his face.
Scott shakes the moment off and stands up, frowns and places his hand on his hips like Peter Pan with a stomach ailment. He thinks about a Peter Pan joke he could make here, but then decides that it would never, never land.
Scott Hunter: This will never work. My stomach hurts, I’m cranky and irritable, and my right pinky toe is swollen to three times its size. I haven’t had anything to eat in almost forty-seven minutes. I need to find a snack soon or my health could be in danger.
Craig Massey: I don’t know if you know this, but people usually go much longer than that between meals. If you ate something less than an hour ago, you would be just fine without a pre-match snack. Also, let me once again reiterate… YOU DO NOT HAVE A MATCH TONIGHT. Of course, there’s a match about to happen right now between people you’ve lost to in two straight weeks..
Scott waves him off. Craig can be so annoying.
Scott Hunter: Why would you bring those two up?? You know that’s a sore subject with me, alongside subjects such as antibacterial sponges and tangelos. What even are those things?? You don’t know! Nobody does! Also Craig, you don’t have to actually be booked for a match to have a pre-match snack. Do you know why? Because it’s the law. You are putting yourself in legal jeopardy, so I think you should never mention the aforereferenced wrestlers to me ever again, and then, go and find me some Combos. Cheddar cheese please.
Craig Massey: Aforereferenced? That’s a pretty big word for you. And where the hell am I supposed to find Combos around here?
Scott Hunter: I think I saw a vending machine next to Lindsay Troy’s office. It had Combos and like, two hundred DVD copies of Mean Girls. Have you seen Mean Girls, Craig? It’s so good. Danny Devito, I love your work. That’s classic Damien right there. You go, Glen Coco! Ha! So good.
Craig Massey: Classic… what?
There’s an uncomfortable silence between them as Scott stares a very empty, brainless and shallow hole in Craig Massey’s head.
Craig looks at him, feels a sigh come out of his face, then rubs his temples.
Craig Massey: Fine, I’ll go and find you a pre-match snack. I really don’t get paid enough to deal with this.
Scott is taken aback.
Scott Hunter: You’re getting paid for this?
Craig Massey: Did you think I was hanging around with you because we’re friends?
Scott stares at him and a flood of sadness overtakes him. His bottom lip starts to quiver and he has a puppy dog eyes expression on his face. He is reminded of the time in elementary school when he told Emily Farthauser that she was pretty and she told him to eat glue and die. The glue was delicious, but to this day it still hurts his feelings an awful lot. Finally he blows air from his mouth and wills himself to be strong.
Scott Hunter: I can’t say that didn’t hurt. You have wounded me today, Craigery, but I forgive you. I’m glad we’ve come to an understanding. It’s very important that two people know where they stand with each other so that they can move forward in their relationship. There’s just one matter that needs to be cleared up.
Craig shakes his head, annoyed.
Craig Massey: And what’s that?
Scott Hunter: Where do we stand on those Combos?
Craig doesn’t say anything for a few seconds. Scott begins tapping on foot, his arms crossed over his chest.
Craig Massey: Fine, I’ll get your damn Combos. But then I’m leaving. I have other matters to attend to this weekend besides fetching your baked snacks.
Scott points an angry finger at Craig.
Scott Hunter: First of all, there’s no need for that kind of language. And secondly, by baked snacks do you mean they have the pot in them? Because I am drug free. I am a devoted proponent of just saying no, which was a phrase invented by the famous cabaret performer, Nancy Reagan.
Craig opens his mouth as if to speak, then changes his mind, turns and heads out through the door to the hallway beyond. Scott follows him and pokes his head through the door, watching as Craig rounds a corner.
Scott Hunter: Cheddar! Don’t forget!
No response, so Scott smiles, satisfied. He steps back, rubs his hands together…
Scott Hunter: Sweet! I’m getting Combos.
Scott starts whistling.
Scott Hunter: Life is a cabaret old chum, come to the cabareeeet-and-also-don’t-take-druuuuuuuugs….
And shuts the door.
We then cut to the ringside area.
ARTHUR PLEASANT VS. C. MORTGOMERY BYRNES
Nick Stuart: This is an interesting match, taking place between Arthur Pleasant and someone who may or may not be a rooke in his first PRIME match.
Richard Parker: Clearly he is new. I have never seen him before!
The opening riffs of “You’re Nobody Til Somebody Loves You” by Dean Martin begins and the masked man with a mustache emerges from the curtain as the lights dim and the spotlights shine on the ramp.
Nick Stuart: He uses the same music as Mort…
Richard Parker: Dean Martin is an American icon, and clearly more than one person can see that!
Mister PPV begins making his way down the ramp. He slides into the ring under the bottom rope, steps up to the middle turnbuckle and raises 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.
“Slum Planet” by 3Teeth and Mick Gordon starts to play, and Arthur Pleasant appears, grinning from ear to ear. He stares at Mister PPV and shakes his head, then makes his way to the ring.
Nick Stuart: You can tell that Arthur doesn’t think this is a new wrestler.
Indeed, as Pleasant gets into the ring, he points at his opponent and says “I know it’s you, Mort!” a few times before moving to his corner and waiting for the bell.
Nick Stuart: This has certainly been an interesting rivalry developing between these two men…
Richard Parker: What are you talking about? This is Mister PPV, Poor Pissback…Vasectomy.
Nick Stuart: We will attempt to indulge the man tonight, as Poe Princent Valsenaam attempts to get revenge on Arthur Pleasant for effectively booting him from PRIME.
Richard Parker: It wasn’t very effective. He’s here! In a ring!
Arthur is the first to make a move, rushing in to grab a hold of PPV. He feints going for a grapple, then immediately tries to grab PPV’s face.
Nick Stuart: Arthur wants that mustache off! He wants to prove it is C. Mortgomery Byrnes!
Poe slaps Arthur’s hands away and punches him twice, then throws him into the far ropes. Arthur comes back and ducks under a clothesline, then grabs Poe’s waist in a waistlock. He attempts a suplex, but doesn’t quite get him up enough, and Poe lands back on his feet, then reverses into his own waistlock. He releases the waistlock and slaps Arthur on the back of the head.
Nick Stuart: Poe is playing with Arthur early on here.
Arthur definitely doesn’t enjoy it, swinging wildly at Mister PPV, who ducks under him and clotheslines the back of his head, sending him to the ground. PPV drops down and slaps on a headlock, wrenching at Pleasant’s neck.
Nick Stuart: Mister PPV’s suspected identity is Byrnes, and he has had a wild few months with Pleasant. He attacked Arthur at Tropical Turmoil, leading to a lawsuit that caused Tony Gamble to boot Byrnes from the Gamble Adoration Society and for all intents and purposes remove him from PRIME. However, this man in the ring claims to be someone else despite being the same height and weight as Mort.
Richard Parker: Stranger things have happened, Nick. Remember when Buster Gloves was 152 pounds one week and 252 the next? How do you gain 100 pounds in two weeks?
Nick Stuart: I actually don’t.
Richard Parker: That’s a lot of bourbon glazed chickens!
Pleasant stretches his leg out and gets his toe to touch the rope, causing Elvis Nixon to step in and do his job. He taps PPV’s shoulder, but the mustached man has no intent on releasing the hold. After a few more seconds of Elvis yelling and Poe ignoring, Nixon starts to count.
Finally Poe releases the hold, then stands up and does a double stomp on Pleasant’s head.
Richard Parker: Ouch!
Nick Stuart: Mister PPV looks fired up here! He rolls him up for the cover!
Pleasant rolls out of the pinfall, getting to his feet and hitting Poe with two right hands. He traps him in the corner, then starts to attack him with kicks to the midsection until Poe slumps down in the corner. Pleasant takes a few steps back, then runs in and smashes him with a knee against the turnbuckle.
Nick Stuart: Arthur Pleasant has been up and down for the past few months, coming out of a Tropical Turmoil loss to The Anglo Luchador, who suits up tonight in a No Holds Barred match against Paxton Ray. Pleasant then beat Darin Zion, lost to Adam Ellis, and picked up a nice win against Scott Hunter heading into this show.
Richard Parker: Which probably means PPV wins this match, because of the pattern.
Nick Stuart: But a win against a man who is probably the former Alias Champion would do some great things for Pleasant, both in confidence and in the rankings.
Richard Parker: Something tells me a guy like Pleasant will not have his confidence affected by a loss.
Pleasant continues to take control of the match, lifting Poe to his feet and then lifting him up before dropping him on the ropes neck first. As PPV bounces off, clutching at his throat, Pleasant grabs the back of his head and slams him down in a reverse DDT before covering him.
Nick Stuart: Poe kicks out after an incredible move by Arthur Pleasant, who is showing some motivation tonight!
Richard Parker: Well if we abandon the illusion that Poe is not Mort, Pleasant has every reason to be motivated. The man took his tooth!
Nick Stuart: I can’t keep track of which of us thinks Poe is Poe and which of us thinks he’s actually C. Mortgomery Byrnes.
Richard Parker: Me either, which is why changing your name and identity is really inconsiderate for the people calling your match. TONY GAMBLE IS ALWAYS TONY GAMBLE! BRANDON YOUNGBLOOD IS ALWAYS BRANDON YOUNGBLOOD! EDDIE CROSS IS ALWAYS A WHINY BABY!
Poe crawls towards the ropes, but Pleasant doesn’t let him get too far before stomping on his back, then bending down and starting to bite at his head, causing Poe’s skin to open up on his cheek.
Nick Stuart: What an animal Pleasant is!
Richard Parker: He just wanted to show Poe that even with one tooth missing he can still do everything he used to do with his teeth!
Elvis Nixon is very unhappy with the recent events and starts to yell at Pleasant, who despite having blood on his mouth raises his hands as if he did not do anything wrong. After a verbal warning from Nixon, Pleasant moves him aside and reaches down to Poe, who grabs him and rolls him up in a small package.
Pleasant is able to kick out quickly, but Poe is back on his feet and hits Pleasant with a Mongolian chop. Pleasant recovers, then hits Poe with a punch. The two begin to trade punches, with the fans cheering when Poe gets a shot in and booing when Pleasant gets a shot in. Finally, after a few more punches, Pleasant grabs Poe and sends a knee into his stomach, causing the fans to boo louder. He then grabs Poe’s face again.
Nick Stuart: He’s going for the mustache again! He’s trying to prove this is actually Mort!
Richard Parker: What did Mort use to keep that thing on, crazy glue?
Indeed, the mustache is not coming off. Pleasant pulls, rips, claws at it, but the mustache is still fast onto Poe’s face and somehow perfectly coiffed. Were one to have a mustache contest in PRIME, Poe may even rival Hayes Hanlon with how well his is groomed.
Pleasant finally lets go of the mustache and takes a step back, confused.
Nick Stuart: It’s not a fake mustache! Is this actually a new wrestler?
Richard Parker: It can’t be! He talks just as stupid as Mort does!
Mort/Poe/whoever he is takes advantage of this confusion and reaches out quickly to grab Pleasant’s arm, twist it around his neck, and drop to the ground in a neckbreaker.
Nick Stuart: Bust Out! It is him!
Richard Parker: And he’s going for the cover!
Nick Stuart: Pleasant kicked out! But we’ve seen that arm trap neckbreaker before several times, so despite the mustache, that has to be C. Mortgomery Byrnes!
Richard Parker: With new mustache growing powers!
The fans have truly found themselves behind Mort. Not that he’s a good guy, and maybe just because Pleasant is his opponent. But all the same, he notices these fans, the same ones who once called him Dickweed Bastard Gremlin, cheering for him, and he smiles, then cuts his arm across his neck.
Nick Stuart: Mort is ready to end it!
He lifts Pleasant up and hooks both arms, but then Arthur swings his head up ferociously.
Nick Stuart: Low blow!
Richard Parker: And a weird one at that!
With his arms still hooked, Arthur stands up and adjusts his arms, grabbing Mort/PPV and standing in a fireman’s carry.
Nick Stuart: Pleasant has him, could this be the end?
The impact is loud and unpleasant as Mort is flipped over from the fireman’s carry into a codebreaker. He slumps down as Pleasant rolls on top of him.
DING DING DING!
Vince Howard: YOUR WINNER…ARTHURRRRRR PLEEEEEAASAAAAAANT!
Nick Stuart: Well Poe, Mort, whatever you like to call him, he was a fighter tonight, and he almost got the win but for an opportune head butt into his…
Richard Parker: Into his PPVs! His Pulsating Private…Vivacious!
We then cut to commercial.
COMMERCIAL: THE BELMONT CLASSIC
As the year comes to a close, our eyes turn to the events yet to come.
When the past and present gather to honor the future.
When the stars of tomorrow are given their first chance to shine.
Thirty-two wrestlers will come to St. Louis and compete for one of the most revered accolades in all of wrestling. While they might have many chances at greatness in their careers, they will have only one chance at this.
So many young warriors. So many hopes, dreams, fears, and motivations.
But there is only one prize…
THE BELMONT CLASSIC
St. Louis, MO
For those about to rock…we salute you.
ULTRADIAMONDS 2023: NIGHT ONE
From commercial, we see the shadow of Soldier Field, the Waldron Parking Deck sits quiet. A few straggling fans here and there, a couple tailgaters who couldn’t afford tickets to the show, maybe even some folks who only want all that big show atmosphere without having to deal with the crowds. The camera pans between the rows of cars until it settles on an obnoxiously large pickup truck with the engine still running.
The windows are tinted pitch black. Four dirty mattresses are piled into the bed sideways, each one dirtier than the last. Neon lights line the trim and undercarriage, every color of the rainbow. Waylon Jennings’ “I’m a Ramblin’ Man” blasts from inside, a subwoofer turning the bassline into a pure, unadulterated rumble. The camera zooms in on the license plate, lit bright by the neon and surrounded by a novelty rhinestone-bedazzled frame…
No one can be surprised when the driver’s side door opens and The Rhinestone Cowboy himself steps out, dressed in what would have been his ‘Super Special Ultra Cool Big Fight Daytona PPV Gear’. We’re talking fringe for days, folks. We’re talking snakeskin boots with the spurs. We’re talking a perfect approximation of Michaelangelo’s ‘Creation of Adam‘ on the back of his jacket made entirely of intricately placed rhinestones and delicate embroidery, the visage of the titular Adam replaced by Daytona himself.
We’re talking money.
Daytona doesn’t even bother to acknowledge the cameraman. Instead, he walks around to the back of the truck and opens the gate, pulling out the mattresses one by one and dutifully laying them out on the ground side by side in a lopsided square. After momentarily inspecting his work, Daytona nods to himself before going back around to the passenger side door. He rifles around in the floorboards before returning with a a cardboard box.
With the box placed on the gate of the truck, Daytona reaches in to pull out three things: a megaphone, a t-shirt, and a hastily made sharpie-on-poster-board sign that he tapes to the back of the truck. It reads “ULTRADIAMONDS 2023 PRESENTED BY DAYTONA DIAMONDS AND NO ONE ELSE I DID IT BY MYSELF” in big, bold letters. Daytona climbs into the bed of the truck, the t-shirt draped over his shoulder and the megaphone in hand. The megaphone screeches to live as the switch is flipped to ‘on’. Daytona speaks through the mouthpiece, his voice turned into a booming echo.
Daytona Diamonds: How we doin’ out there tonight, PRIMEorillas?! If y’all don’t know me by now, I reckon you ain’t been payin’ enough attention.l! My name is Daytona Diamonds! The Rhinestone Cowboy! The King of the Rodeo! The Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line! I’d like to be the first to welcome each and every all y’all to UltraDiamonds 2023! Hot damn, let’s hear them cheers!
There’s no applause. There’s barely even a reaction. A few people wandering through the parking deck stop to watch, scratching their heads and looking confused. This doesn’t seem to dissuade Daytona at all.
Daytona Diamonds: I know, I know. Y’all are probably askin’ y’allselves, ‘now what in the good god dang is UltraDiamonds 2023? That’s a fair question and I reckon it deserves a fair answer. Y’see, folks, there’s been an absolute tragedy occurin’ tonight just a few yards away from where my snakeskin boots are standin’ right this very second. PRIME, my so-called employer, has decided in their infinite wisdom to hold a so-called Supershow right over there in so-called Soldier Field… and they done went and done it without bookin’ ol’ Daytona in a match! That’s what we call leavin’ money on the table, folks! On top of all that, they’ve fined me twice for excercisin’ my God given right to defend myself ‘gainst those lowdown, good for nothing chucklefucks they call cameramen! That ain’t just wrong! That’s downright un-American!
Daytona pauses, a pained expression crossing his face as he shakes his head. His eyes harden and his lower lip trembles as he tries to collect himself, taking a deep breath before continuing on.
Daytona Diamonds: …that’s why I’ve decided to take all them lemons and turn ’em into god dang lemonade! Ladies and gentlemen, I’m givin’ the people what they want! Y’all see them mattresses?! That’s a ring right there! Tonight and tomorrow, The Rhinestone Cowboy is welcomin’ all challengers! That’s right! You, my adorin’ fans, have the chance to wrassle me for the low, low price of twenty dollars a pop! Just imagine, if’n you can! You ever wanted to square up with a genuine superstar? You ever wanted to know what it’s like to stand toe to toe with greatness? Well, here’s your chance! And! If you manage to pin me and beat my undefeated streak… ?
Daytona pulls the t-shirt from his shoulder and holds it up for the camera to see; a black t-shirt with white text (cheaply) screen printed on: I Fought Daytona Diamonds and He Let Me Win.
Daytona Diamonds: …why, hell! You might just win yerself a premium, limited edition, all cotton, commemorative t-shirt! That’s a fuckin’ deal, babies!
Looking directly into the camera, Daytona tips his hat as a wide, shit-eating grin curls at the edges of his lips.
Daytona Diamonds: So, what’re y’all waitin’ fer? Get outta that dang ol’ arena, don’t worry ’bout them matches ain’t nobody wanna see, walk your asses cross the street, and come see the real show! UltraDiamonds 2023, y’all! Whoo!
As the camera starts to fade, we can hear Daytona’s voice one last time, barely picked up by the camera’s mic.
Daytona Diamonds: Fuckin’ rubes. Easy money, baby. God dang easy money. Hey! You ain’t still recordin’, are ya?! You no good sonuvabitch, get over here!
We then cut to the backstage area.
LET ME ASK YOU A QUESTION
The air in Soldier Field is thick with anticipation. Three matches down and Night One of this chaotic two-night event is clearly a roaring success. Various personnel–production, caterers, etc– are buzzing with excitement as various chatter collides in the atmosphere. Rocky de Leon, having come off the second match of the night with Kennade Starr, is walking down a backstage corridor when suddenly a man wearing baggy pants, a baggy shirt, and a mustache and glasses disguise passes him by. At least. Rocky thinks he saw a mustache and glasses.
Rocky stops in mid-stride. Was his mind playing tricks on him? Did Ken-naugh-day hit him a little too hard at some point during their encounter?
Rocky De Leon: Wait a minute…
Turning around, wiping sweat away from his body with a towel he had draped over his right shoulder, Rocky looks back at the man.
There’s… something familiar about him.
Rocky De Leon: Hey! You! Stop!
The man stopped. It’s eerie-like just how quickly he comes to a halt.
As Rocky adjusts his mask, a shiver crawls down his spine. For some inexplicable reason, the lights flickered.
Rocky de Leon: (looking up at the flickering lights) Oh come on!
The flickering lights cast eerie shadows on the walls and floor, creating an atmosphere of foreboding. The man with whom he shouted to stop stands still among these shadows.
Rocky De Leon: What are you… uh… what are you doing?!
The Lion of Laredo walks cautiously down the corridor. Every step he takes, he can feel his breathing grow more rapid. Within an arm’s reach, Rocky clears his throat.
Rocky De Leon: Is that you…?
Reaching out, he puts his arm on the figure’s shoulder. Pulling on his shoulder, he slowly turns the figure around, revealing, as his mind first thought, a man wearing a mustache and glasses disguise.
Suddenly, a menacing figure steps out from the shadows behind Rocky; his face twisted into an unsettling grin.
Rocky De Leon: Oh. Wait, who are y-
Rocky De Leon: AAARRRGGGHHH!!!!
Unbeknownst to him, Arthur Pleasant had been lurking, stalking if you will, in the shadows, studying the Lion of Laredo’s every move, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. As soon as Rocky turned around this co-conspirator in the seemingly premeditated attack, Arthur smashed a Chicago Blackhawks hockey stick into the back of Rocky’s calf. Rocky’s muscles immediately began seizing up, giving him a bad charley horse in the process.
Rocky De Leon: ~SKKKKKRRRRROOOOOOOOOOOOOUCCCCCCCCH!!!!! MY LEG!! MY LEG!!
Arthur Pleasant: Quiet, birdman.
THWAAAAAAAACK! THWAAAAAAAACK! THWAAAAAAAACK!
Arthur goes to town on the leg, smashing it into Rocky’s knee, calf, and shin bone. The attack was unrelenting. Vicious.
THWAAAAAAAACK! THWAAAAAAAACK! THWAAAAAAAACK!
Head. Arms. Legs. Shoulder. Back. It seemed like no one body part was immune to the vicious onslaught.
As Rocky calls out in agony, Pleasant looks up at the figure wearing the mustache and glasses disguise. The Nightmare of PRIME motions with his head for this person to remove their disguise. As if he needed the camera to capture their identity.
They remove the disguise, fearing for their life.
Arthur Pleasant: Nice job! I knew I paid you good money for a reason.
It’s Arliss Peters, and he looks absolutely terrified.
Rocky De Leon, barely conscious, bleeding from a nasty laceration in his elbow region, reached up in a defensive position, but it’s no use. Arthur lunges forward with unparalleled speed, grabbing Rocky by his throat and slamming his head against the cold concrete floor. The force of the impact rattles Rocky’s senses, momentarily rendering him disoriented.
Arthur Pleasant: Let me ask you something, birdman.
His words turn to a whisper.
Gasping for breath, Rocky musters every ounce of strength he has left, launching a desperate counterattack. With a swift right hook, he manages to momentarily loosen Pleasant’s grip, allowing him to break free. Impressed with Rocky’s ability to maintain consciousness, Pleasant wipes away blood that forms on a minor cut across his upper lip. He cackles.
Arthur Pleasant: Enough.
Rocky squirms some more.
Arthur Pleasant: I said ENOUGH!
Pleasant grabs at Rocky’s mask and slams his head down onto the concrete one last time, finally rendering his victim motionless. Perhaps unconscious, too.
Arthur Pleasant: Let’s try this again, birdman. Let… me… ASK you something.
Pleasant straddles Rocky. His hands slowly slide up Rocky’s bare chest.
Breathing heavily, Arthur looks down at his defeated assailant. His eyes filled with a mixture of triumph and concern.
Leaning down uncomfortably close to Rocky’s ear, he whispers. Almost seductively.
Arthur Pleasant: What’s behind your mask?
Pleasant stands up, leaving Rocky De Leon beaten and battered. Looking down at him, Arthur cocks his head, listening intently to the shallow breathing.
Arthur Pleasant: C’mon, Ar. Let’s go celebrate! Oh what fun tonight was!
Arliss walks timidly towards Arthur, as if suffering from battered child syndrome. Wrapping an arm around his attorney, Pleasant simply chuckles.
We then cut to ringside for our next match.
NO HOLDS BARRED: THE ANGLO LUCHADOR VS. PAXTON RAY
Fuck the pleasantries, we’re right in it.
“They say it’s good to start a story with a tragedy.”
The chunky guitar riff of “Fistfight” by The Ballroom Thieves kicks in as Paxton Ray walks out under the PRIMEView. Paxton sneers as the fans boo, then slowly holds his hand up in the air.
The day I finally met you like I knew I would
You raised me from the wreck of my doubts
You were smiling to yourself as if we both understood
The silent language of the anguish of a heart that sings but doesn’t make a sound
Normally Paxton would be brought to the ring by his manager, Foster Nackedy, but that relationship has soured, and tonight Paxton is truly alone. He slowly walks towards the ring, looking around as the crowd rains hate down upon him. He steps up to the apron and steps over the ring ropes, then leans back against them and closes his eyes.
Vince Howard: Making his way to the ring, weighing in at 245 pounds…he is The Bayou Butcher…PAAAAAXTOOOOONNNN RAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYY!
Soldier Field goes dark except for the ambient light from the night sky, the Chicago skyline filling the air with light pollution. The PRIMEView lights up to show Paxton Ray holding a baby in the hospital, his face beaming with joy.
Nick Stuart: I don’t understand this. Paxton’s already in the ring.
The hazy, drawn-out vocals of Scott Lucas begin over a trippy guitar. “Manifest Destiny, Pt. 1.”
You’re onto something good, but I can’t believe it’s all that matters to you.
The screen smash cuts to Paxton and his daughter Nora smiling wide showing her first lost tooth, then cuts to a promotional still from the original photoshoot for the Fighting For Nora foundation.
A fool, who never seems happy when things are great.
Smash cut to the first video clip, Paxton Ray and Jon Rhine walking to the ring during a Fighting For Nora match.
It’s too late.
Smash cut to The Anglo Luchador posing with the infamous Paxton Ray/Nora cutout at Target.
Before you can think, the thought has entered your mind
Smash cut to ReVival 33, another video, this time The Anglo Luchador zapping Ray with the shock collar.
And it’ll be back soon.
The PRIMEview goes dark for a beat, and then simultaneously, the hard-driving guitar-and-drum assault of another Local H song, “Cynic,” hits on the Soldier Field PA while intense spotlights shine on the entrance.
It’s the Anglo Luchador wearing a white and gold variant of his ring gear and a gray t-shirt with black lettering on it. Familiar black lettering.
Nick Stuart: Hey, look at the shirt he’s wearing! That’s…
Richard Parker: A Fighting For Nora shirt. Damn.
Nick Stuart: I’m not sure if this is defiance, mind-games, or an attempt at Death-By-Butcher here, but you have to hand it to the utter boldness of the Anglo Luchador here.
Richard Parker: For once, Nick, I agree with you. In this one instance, I will put aside journalistic integrity and hope that The Anglo Luchador turns this monster into gator sausage. And then he can go back to losing all his matches.
Nick Stuart: Folks, my broadcast partner.
Vince Howard: And his opponent, hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and weighing in at 211 pounds, he is the first Intense Champion of the ReVival, the Last Champion of Tenochtitlan, and he’s Fighting For Nora…
The crowd goes absolutely ballistic at the mention of Nora
Vince Howard: …The Anglooooooo…. LUUUUUUUUUUUUUCHADORRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!
The Luchador stops his strong, slow gait as he broaches the ringside area. He removes the Fighting For Nora shirt and throws it to a little girl in the front row sitting with her parents.
There are no lock-ups. There is no feeling each other out. This is not a scientific wrestling match.
As soon as the bell rings, the two men charge each other and meet in the center of the ring to trade a frenzy of punches Frye-Takayama style.
Nick Stuart: This rivalry has become deeply personal between these two men. Paxton blames the Anglo Luchador for taking his daughter away. The Anglo Luchador’s brother, Mikey, has spent weeks in the hospital because of Paxton Ray.
Richard Parker: And there’s a real chance that one or both of these men spend some time in the local medical facility when this is over.
The fists fly seemingly without end, each man trading punches with the other for a solid minute. A right from the Anglo Luchador busts Paxton’s lip, but it’ll take a while before the broadcasters realize it. A left across the face from Paxton Ray connects with the Luchador’s nose, which begins a trickle of blood through his mask. The stand-up brawl only ends with Paxton digs both of his thumbs into the eyes of the Anglo Luchador and drives him down into the mat, where he attempts to spike his head over and over into the canvas.
It doesn’t last long, as Paxton quickly dismounts and moves to the corner where he practically tears the turnbuckle covers free from their positions.
Nick Stuart: We’ve seen Paxton do this before in matches like these, using everything that he can find as a weapon.
Richard Parker: We’ve also seen him do other things, Nick. Things that nobody should have to watch.
Paxton turns and is met with a charging lariat from the Anglo Luchador that sends both men over the top rope to the outside where the brawl begins anew.
An uppercut lands along the Anglo Luchador’s jawline, and he slumps back against the guardrail. Paxton leans over and begins ripping at the tape that binds the ringside mats together, trying to create some separation between them.
Nick Stuart: What is he… oh. Oh no. No no no no no.
Ray balls up the gaffer’s tape and casually tosses it into the crowd. Chicago has certainly seen its share of violence – both in and outside the confines of wrestling – but not a soul in this crowd is dumb enough to throw the tape ball back.
Paxton pulls one of the mats back, exposing a large square of the concrete floor underneath. He grabs the Luchador by his mask and drags him up to his feet, all the while maneuvering him to the danger zone he’s just created by the ring.
Richard Parker: Watching what this lunatic did to Jonathan Rhine last year is something I still see at night, Nick. I do not want to watch it happen to someone else.
If this was a normal match, Timo Bolamba would have already put a stop to this. There would be rules that he could enforce. At best, the offender would find himself disqualified. At worst, fined. Perhaps terminated if the offense was egregious enough. But now Timo’s hands are tied, so he’s forced to watch as Ray cradles the Anglo Luchador’s head under his arm and starts to hoist him up into a vertical suplex position.
Nick Stuart: No, there’s no way he’s going to hit that brainbuster! Not on the concrete floor!
Richard Parker is uncharacteristically silent.
Nick Stuart: Goddammit, no! Timo… someone… ANYONE… You’ve got to put a stop to this right goddamn now!
Richard Parker: God’s not listening, Nick. If she was, then we wouldn’t have to deal with Paxton Ray in the first place.
Time seems to stop as Paxton holds the Luchador in the air. With the exception of Nick barking into his headset at ringside, the arena is dead quiet.
But Paxton doesn’t fall.
There’s a brief moment of hesitation, and the Anglo Luchador – sensing the impending threat – starts to fight back. He tries to score a few shots with his free arm. His legs kick in the air. Paxton is forced to adjust.
Richard Parker: Tell me when I can look, Nick. I don’t want to see this. I can’t.
Instead, the Anglo Luchador is dropped stomach first across the unforgiving guardrail, and all the wind is driven from his body. It’s not a happy landing, but compared to the alternative it may as well be heaven. The gathered PRIMEates let out a collective sigh of relief.
Nick Stuart: Fans, I still… I can’t believe what we almost saw.
Richard finally takes his hands away from his face, opening his eyes.
Richard Parker: Oh, thank Hoyt. That could have been so much worse.
But it doesn’t get much better. Paxton reaches over the guardrail and grabs a chair from a fan in the front row. It’s not your traditional folding chair used at events like these. No, this one is a souvenir item sold as part of a premier VIP package. It has a padded seat. It’s heavy, sturdy – built to last on display for those lucky enough to own them. Paxton folds it up and swings, but not with the padded side.
Nick Stuart: Good lord!
Richard Parker: Okay, I’m closing my eyes again. This is a crime, and we’re both accessories for watching it, and I don’t feel like going to prison for Paxton goddamn Ray tonight!
A second shot connects with the Luchador’s back, and then a third. The Son of the Shogun manages to slide off of the guardrail before the fourth, which is swung hard enough that the chair is dented and a piece of the seat back goes sailing into the crowd. Thin rivulets of blood begin trickling down the luchador’s back from the places where a few stray burrs from the metal caught him.
The fan who lost their seat stares wide-eyed as all this is unfolding, weighing whether the story is worth the money paid for this experience.
Richard Parker: Tell that guy he can have my chair on the condition he calls the rest of this match, because I’m about at my limit for the violence, Nick.
Paxton pulls up the Luchador and rolls him back into the ring. In spite of everything he’s just gone through, the old luchador somehow manages to stumble up to his feet. He staggers for a moment, drops to a knee, and all but collapses onto the mat before trying to regain his bearings.
On the arena floor, Paxton has lifted up one side of the ring apron and has started rummaging around underneath the ring for something to weaponize.
Richard Parker: Oh, fuck this.
He finds it in the form of a large piece of lumber with one end wrapped in barbed wire.
Nick Stuart: For those of you who are watching and are new to PRIME, these two men in the main event of the first ReVival of 2023 in a barbed wire ropes match, and that was before things became overtly hostile between them. Given everything we know, and what’s happened since…
Richard Parker: You might want to turn the screen off now.
Paxton climbs onto the ring apron and is about to step between the ropes when he’s cut off. The Anglo Luchador comes barrelling towards him as if shot out of a cannon. A series of rights and lefts try to knock the Bayou Butcher back to the floor, but Paxton holds on with his free hand. He swings the 2×4, but the force of it causes it slip free from his hand and tumble to the mat. In response, the Anglo Luchador connects with a gamengiri that almost sends Ray to the ground.
Nick Stuart: New life in the Anglo Luchador!
Richard Parker: Honestly, Nick, I’m just happy we avoided having to watch another barbed wire murder.
Paxton staggers, one foot slipping from his perch on the ring apron, but his grip on the rope means he doesn’t fall. The Anglo Luchador looks at his enemy, and then looks down at the board.
Richard Parker: Okay, I might have spoke too soon.
He contemplates picking it up for a moment, but then gets a different idea. The Luchador builds up some momentum off of the ropes opposite Paxton. With Ray still wavering on the ring apron, the Anglo Luchador vaults over the ropes and onto his shoulders, twisting in the air and sending him back first onto the exposed concrete with an inside-out hurricanrana.
Nick Stuart: GOOD LORD!!
Richard Parker: True story… One time I dropped a watermelon out a third-story window, and that’s exactly what it sounded like.
Timo immediately slides out of the ring to check on both men, because what he and everyone else just witnessed was an absolute car crash. Both are stirring, though Paxton Ray is still mostly prone on the concrete.
Nick Stuart: We knew this was going to be wild, Richard, maybe even more violent than their Intense Title match earlier this year, and that’s why we have a team of medics close at hand.
Richard Parker: Does that include a coroner? Because I feel like we might need one of those before the night is over.
The Anglo Luchador gets to his feet, though he is noticeably wobbly and needs to use the guardrail to steady himself for a moment. Once he’s sure of his footing, he waves away Timo and connects with a pair of stomps to Paxton Ray. He pulls Ray to his feet and brings him over to the steel steps, which Paxton is then immediately introduced to. The Old Luchador slams Paxton down face-first a second time, and this shot opens a small cut just above his left eye.
Nick Stuart: Both men busted open, which should come as no surprise tonight.
Richard Parker: I’m surprised it took this long, to be honest.
With Paxton slumped in the corner where the guardrails meet, the Anglo Luchador puts all his weight behind the stairs and pushes them into a new position near the side of the ring, but around four feet out from the ring apron.
Nick Stuart: Remember, this is no holds barred, so anything goes here tonight, and it looks like the stairs are about to become part of the match.
Richard Parker: As opposed to thirty seconds ago, when they were also part of the match.
Nick Stuart: Look, this is a lot to take in, okay?!
The Anglo Luchador drapes Paxton across the top of the steps, and fires off five rapid punches to the spot where Paxton is cut, opening it wider and causing blood to drip down into the man’s eyes.
Nick Stuart: The Anglo Luchador climbing up onto the ring apron. What… oh no. This could be a bad idea!
Richard Parker: As opposed to what? All the good ideas he has?
The Son of the Shogun glances back over his shoulder as he grips the top rope from his perch on the ring apron. He springs up onto the second rope, and then vaults backwards with an Asai moonsault.
He lands chest first on the cold, unforgiving steel.
Nick Stuart: HE MOVED! PAXTON RAY MOVED!
The medics make their first move, stepping over to where the Anglo Luchador lays on the ground clutching his ribs. Despite sucking wind through gritted teeth, he’s waving them away and insisting that he can continue. The medical team scatters, but not because of what the Luchador says. No, it’s because Paxton Ray storms in among them, and reaches down to collect ol’ Anglo.
He grabs the Luchador by his mask, pulls him to his feet, and rolls him back into the ring.
Nick Stuart: Both men back in the ring now…
Richard Parker: They sure are, but that might actually mean things are about to get worse.
Nick Stuart: Why do you…
And then Nick realizes.
Nick Stuart: Oh.
There’s a block of wood still in the ring, and it’s wrapped in barbed wire. But more importantly, Paxton Ray already has his hands on it. He swings, and the barbs taste flesh for the first time tonight, digging into the Luchador’s back and opening up fresh wounds. He drops to his knees. A second shot clips his forehead, and a tear appears in the Anglo Luchador’s mask. Behind it comes a stream of blood.
But instead of falling over, the Anglo Luchador gestures for Paxton to swing again.
Nick Stuart: There is no quit in the Anglo Luchador tonight, Richard!
Richard Parker: I’ll take you at your word, I’m covering my eyes again. I don’t want to see what’s happening in that ring.
Paxton rears back for another swing, but a haymaker to the ribs knocks the wind out of him. A second punch follows, and Paxton doubles over. The Luchador rises to his feet and immediately snaps the Lafayette Bruiser down with a DDT. The impact is enough that the board scatters across the ring.
Richard Parker: Is it safe to open my eyes yet?
Nick Stuart: You might want to hold off, because the Anglo Luchador has just found himself a weapon.
Richard Parker: Okay. Thanks, Nick. Appreciate you.
Three successive shots with the wired-up 2×4 land on Paxton Ray’s back, each one shredding his tank top more and more until it’s nothing more than a blood covered rag hanging off of his torso. With the board in both hands, the Luchador backs off. He waits for Paxton to get to his feet, and then…
Nick Stuart: What? Why?
He tosses Paxton the board.
Richard Parker: Is it safe to look now?
And dropkicks it directly into Paxton’s forehead.
Richard Parker: JESUS HOYT CHRIST!
The barbs drag across his skin, tearing away thin strips of flesh and hair, and covering the Butcher’s face in a deep crimson. Paxton stumbles back and collapses into the corner of the ring with the removed turnbuckle covers. The Anglo Luchador uses the 2×4 to brace himself, and then charges across the ring with the barbed wire board in tow.
Richard Parker: This just keeps getting worse.
Nick Stuart: Paxton moved again, and the Anglo Luchador crashed into those exposed buckles!
Paxton slides out of the ring and once more searches for something under the apron. He wastes no time in finding it, and is immediately back inside with a black bag in one hand. He closes the distance to the Anglo Luchador with purpose and empties the contents of the satchel.
Nick Stuart: We’ve seen barbed wire, chairs, the stairs, and a man thrown on to exposed concrete, so what could possibly…
Richard Parker: NO PLEASE NOT THAT!
It’s a shock collar.
Paxton attempts to pull the Luchador up to lock that collar on, but as he gets close the Luchador grabs him by both legs and takes him to the ground. What follows is a mad scramble as both men jockey for position, exchanging mount and guard, to try and get the collar around the neck of the other. A left from Paxton connects. A forearm from the Luchador. They trade punches and positions around the canvas, but the longer limbs of Paxton Ray mean that he’s able to get behind the Anglo Luchador and lock the collar into place.
But getting the collar on was one thing. There’s still the matter of the remote control, which the Anglo Luchador is currently reaching for. Again Paxton dives for it, and again a struggle breaks out.
Nick Stuart: It’s a mad scramble for the remote!
Richard Parker: As long as they keep away from me, they can do whatever the hell they want at this point.
Paxton claws for the control, but the Luchador won’t release his grip. A back elbow from the Anglo Luchador creates a little separation between them and he gets ready to throw the remote, but Paxton grabs hold of the Luchador’s hand and slams it down onto the mat which triggers the collar.
Nick Stuart: Paxton Ray just used the Anglo Luchador’s hand to trigger that collar, but it looks like both men are suffering for it!
Richard Parker: So am I. I know what that feels like!
After the first charge, Paxton pries the remote free from the Luchador’s hand and sends another massive current through him. It’s only a few seconds, but for everyone watching it feels like an eternity, yet eventually Paxton tosses the remote aside and makes the match’s only cover.
Nick Stuart: No.
Nick Stuart: Not like this.
DING DING DING
The ring is a disaster, the canvas painted with the blood of both men. The ringside area is in complete disarray. Both men lay spent on the mat. But mercifully, it’s over.
Nick Stuart: What a war this was. Paxton Ray probably thinks he’s gotten a measure of revenge in his head.
Richard Parker: He probably also thinks you solve complex math equations by punching them. I don’t think he’s the arbiter of what’s smart. Still, I learned my lesson. Never trust The Luchador.
Paxton reacts to his win, spattered in blood, most of it decidedly not his own, with all the emotion you’d expect out of the sociopath. The fallen Luchador, the white portions of his gear now stained pink from all his blood loss, crawls over to the ropes and calls over to the timekeeper for a microphone as Paxton slowly exits the ring.
Nick Stuart: What’s he doing?
Richard Parker: Knowing him? Probably something incredibly stupid.
The Luchador props himself up on the bottom rope, seated with most of his lumbar and his entire ass and legs on the mat. He lifts the microphone to his mouth.
TAL: You ain’t learned shit.
The crowd goes OOOOOOOOH!! at the Luchador on the microphone.
TAL: TURN AROUND AND LOOK AT ME, YOU STUPID FUCK.
The Luchador uses the ropes to get up to his feet, hunched over, visibly in excruciating pain. Paxton merely stops in his tracks momentarily.
TAL: You beat me, fair and square, I get it. I poked the fucking bear and I lost, but did you two scumbags really win? Do you even know why you have to go on this mad wild goose chase and why your ex-wife and your daughter are in hiding? Look at yourself, man. LOOK AT ME, AND LOOK AT YOURSELF, YOU SORRY EXCUSE FOR A MAN.
Paxton turns around and snarls before continuing his stalk back to the locker room.
TAL: You could have her back, not Melissa, she’s fucking through, but Nora. You could see Nora again if you two just stop giving into his bloodlust. Sykes tried beating it into you. Caes tried. Anna Daniels tried. I SURE AS FUCK TRIED, PAXTON. Maybe beating it into you doesn’t work because you like it too much. Maybe you need to hear it, loud and clear, in front of thousands here and hundreds of thousands more at home. You know what your daughter told me, Paxton? YOU KNOW WHAT SHE TOLD ME?
Paxton again stops momentarily before reaching the top of the stage.
TAL: She said “He isn’t my daddy anymore. I want my daddy back.” THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID. You lost yourself because you thought Jon Rhine, my friend, Jared Sykes’ BROTHER, would look good as a head mounted on your mantlepiece. Fuck that. And fuck you until you’re ready to be a fucking man, to be a fucking FATHER.
Nick Stuart: Did… Did the Anglo Luchador get through to Paxton Ray?
Paxton turns around and stares at The Anglo Luchador, his nostrils flaring. And for a moment, he takes two steps towards the ring. However, before he can get any further towards his opponent, a young woman walks out from the back and steps in front of Paxton.
Nick Stuart: Who is that?
Richard Parker: I have no idea, but she is getting way too close to the murder man for my liking.
The woman puts a hand on Paxton’s chest and stands on her tiptoes, whispering something in Paxton’s ear. After a moment, the Bayou Butcher closes his eyes, then nods. Without looking back at The Anglo Luchador, Paxton and his unknown friend walk through the curtain.
The Luchador falls back down to his behind, sobbing.
TAL: Man, I only knew about her from stories, and I wanted to help her more than anything in the world. I had her for six months, and she was like family to me, to my boys. sniff You’re her flesh and blood, man. Why can’t you… why…
The Luchador, strained from the beating, the blood loss, and his animated oratory, slumps in the corner. Timo Bolamba hurriedly calls for the medics to come out and attend to him as the camera cuts to our final commercial of the evening.
COMMERCIAL: ULTRAVIOLENCE NIGHT TWO
I HATE THAT NAME
We go from commercial to the backstage locker room, where PRIME’s Event Horizon sits on a bench, ring gear on, with a black t-shirt in hand. He looks down at the graphic and shakes his head. In big, bubbly letters, the shirt reads “Team Dump Trucks,” with a graphic of two cartoonish dump trucks side by side, one with a caricature Hanlon’s face drawn in to the grill, the other with Jared Sykes’s, both looking back at bulbous booties built in to the tailgates.
Jared Sykes: I told you I hated that name.
Hayes barely lifts an eye to his partner on the other side of the room. Jared sits with elbows on his knees and a towel over his head, the same shirt long tossed to the far end of the bench. Hayes snorts in reply.
Hayes Hanlon: Yeah. “The Glute Factory” was right in front of us, wasn’t it.
The Dragonslayer offers nothing clever. Nothing snarky. In fact, the room is painfully quiet. Not sure why? Check out their promo.
After an extended silence, Hanlon tosses the shirt, and looks up to the Heart of PRIME.
Hayes Hanlon: Look, man. We don’t have to…
Jared Sykes: Let’s just get this over with, and get on with our lives.
With a quick push off the knees, Jared stands and heads for the door, throwing it open and escaping into the hall, presumably toward Argyle. Hayes remains, letting his head fall back against a locker and breathing deep through his nose.
Hayes Hanlon: Sorry, buddy.
Home Run Hayes takes one last breath, stands, and heads through the door, sure to keep his distance.
The camera captures the dimly lit corridor of UltraViolence’s venue. The concrete walls, adorned with chipping paint and the occasional promotional poster, bear witness to the countless battles waged within the wrestling ring. Amidst the faint echoes of the roaring crowd, Adam Ellis leans against a stack of metal folding chairs, contemplating his career thus far.
Adam Ellis: Y’know, not being booked for tonight’s show don’t bother me none. My career’s headin’ in a good direction, and I’m gonna keep workin’ hard.
He scratches at his scruffy chin.
Adam Ellis: I remember the thrilling rush of adrenaline that coursed through me during my Alias title challenge against Tony Gamble. In that moment, I thought I’d touched greatness, even if it was for just a fleeting moment. But it wasn’t meant to be and now, I’ve got to work my way back up again and wait for the next opportunity to come up because that’s what’s really important.
Adam shakes his head.
Adam Ellis: I just wanna focus on my wrestlin’ and win myself some gold…not the drama. Lord knows, I’ve had enough of that Savannah Scandal.
He takes a deep breath, letting the air fill his lungs before exhaling slowly.
Adam Ellis: As for Nate Colton’s apology, well, I accept it. Far as I’m concerned, that whole mess with Savannah Scandal and the crap she spewed about me and Ginny is done and dusted.
As if summoned by the mention of her name, Ginny Van Lear bursts into the frame like a tornado tearing through a trailer park. Her red hair is a wild, fiery mane, and her eyes flash with fury.
Ginny Van Lear (her Kentucky twang thicker than molasses): I ain’t acceptin’ no apologies! I want Savannah Scandal locked in a steel cage where I can get my hands on her!
Adam’s eyebrow arches at Ginny’s outburst, but he remains calm. He reaches out a hand, attempting to soothe his wife’s anger.
Adam Ellis: Ginny, darlin’, let’s not get riled up now. We gotta move past this—
Ginny Van Lear: Move past it?”
Ginny’s voice was sharp as a razor’s edge.
Ginny Van Lear: That… that hussy… that trollop tried to ruin our lives, and you wanna just let it go?
Adam Ellis: Ginny…
Adam stops himself. He knows better than to argue with his wife when she gets like this. Instead, he wraps his arms around her slight frame and hoists her into the air.
Adam Ellis: We’ll handle it, Ginny. I promise.
Adam carries his kicking and screaming wife off-camera as her righteous indignation loudly echoes down the hallway.
Ginny Van Lear: Mark my words, Savannah Scandal!
Ginny’s voice rings out with the fury and feral ferocity of a mountain lion protecting its cubs.
Ginny Van Lear: I’ll get my vengeance on you if it’s the last thing I do!
We then return to ringside for our main event!
CECILWORTH FARTHINGTON/FLAMBERGE VS. JARED SYKES/HAYES HANLON
We return to ringside where the bell rings, and Vince Howard is standing in the middle of the ring.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen… The following contest, scheduled for one fall… is your MAIN EVENT OF THE EVENING!
The arena fades to darkness, and a single note rips through the arena. Deep, rumbling – guitars tuned so low that it crests on the bass register.
I’ll never be ready to meet a memory
With every rhythmic note the arena lights pulse white. Despite the scale of the event and his spot on the card, there is none of the big match spectacle that Jared’s entrances usually entail.
Vince Howard: Introducing first… from Boston, Massachusetts…
I’ve gone walkabout with the parasites in my head
The sound from the speakers is drowned out by the roar coming off the crowd as a lone figure steps onto the entryway. Tonight he’ll do the very thing he cautioned Hayes against and face down a larger force without backup.
Vince Howard: Weighing in tonight at two-hundred and two pounds…
Far too quiet
As I pick away at the surface the itch burns through my skin
There is no time spent engaging with any of the fans at ringside. His walk is done with purpose. Given everything that happened between him and Hayes recently, this is not somewhere that he wants to be. The sooner that the match can start, the sooner he can put it behind him.
Vince Howard: JAREEEEEEEEEEEEED SYYYYYYYYYKES!!!
When the dirt crushes my bones
And the worms call me their home
If I’m asked to start again
I can’t pretend I’m ready
I can’t pretend
I’VE – HAD – PLEN-TY
He arrives at ringside, quickly throwing back his hood and tossing his black sweatshirt aside before sliding in under the bottom rope and taking his position in the corner.
“WHEN MY BACK’S TO THE WAAAALLLLL!!!”
“Daggers” by We Came As Romans. The PRIMEview bursts into an array of stars and planets, exploding like supernovas. A wall of light at the top of the entry ramp reveals the silhouette of the first two-time PRIME Universal Champion of the ReVival era. The eGG Beater. Hammerin’ Hanlon. The Event Horizon.
Vince Howard: His tag team partner! From West Linn, Oregon, weighing in at two hundred and sixty-one pounds!
Hanlon bursts out from behind the light, heading for the ring. Hanlon looks relatively subdued, at least by his standards, as he marches to the ring with purpose.
Vince Howard: HAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYESSSSS!!!
Vince Howard: -HAAAAAAAANNNNNLLLLOOOOONNNNNNN!!!!!!!
Thunderstorms don’t hit as hard as “Daggers” as Hanlon hits the ring apron, immediately making his way to the turnbuckles and climbing up, timing a throat-cutting gesture with the chorus of his song.
“DRAW! THE! DAGGER!
CUT OUT THE PAIN! TO FIND THE POWER!”
Then onto the next turnbuckle to do it again.
“DRAW! THE! DAGGER!
CUT OUT THE PAIN!”
Hanlon drops off of the turnbuckles, and paces around the ring waiting for his opponents. Sykes tries to speak to him to get a game plan going for the match, but Hanlon’s either not listening or not paying attention.
He doesn’t have to wait long for those opponents, by the way.
Darkness once again envelopes Soldier Field.
Not for long, though. Soon, a single spotlight shines down on four men, standing back-to-back-to-back-to-back. Yes, they’re doing this. No, you cannot stop them.
As the beginning of I DON’T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME’s “Choke” hits, we can see that front and center of this bizarre formation is none other than Lord Cecilworth Farthington, the 5-Star Champion himself. The Financier. The leader of the Glue Factory, or (as we’ve come to call them) the Glueminati. Farthington isn’t striking a pose or anything, he’s just looking at his cell phone. As he does. He just has a fancy belt around his waist as he does it.
The camera rotates around to the left. Sid Phillips stands there in his classy suit. He sees the camera and he lowers his sunglasses to wink at it. You have now been powerbombed psychically, and I’m really very sorry about that.
The camera rotates further to the left, and there’s FLAMBERGE in all of his reptilian glory. The Intense Champion, whose title belt is firmly placed over his shoulder. The Neck Collector. Co-owner of PRIME’s longest winning streak at this time. His shoulders bob in tune with “Choke”. He’s probably having what passes for a good time, but don’t tell whatever’s in his head that.
We come around to FLAMBERGE’s right, and there’s Joe Fontaine in his garish sparkling green suit, and… yep. That’s a dab. That’s… that’s great, Joe. Really proud of you, man.
When the camera turns back around to Farthington, the lights come back on and the four men break their formation and start heading for the ring amid the boos of the crowd.
Vince Howard: Their opponents! Representing the Glueminati, at a total combined weight of three hundred and ninety-three pounds! THE INTENSE CHAMPION, FLAAAAAAAMBERRRRRRGGGGGEEEEEEE! AND THE FIVE-STAR CHAMPION, CECILWOOOOOOOORTH FAAAAAAAAARTHINGTOOOOOOOOOONNNN!!!
Richard Parker: There they are, Nick! Champion material if I’ve ever seen it!
Nick Stuart: Both of these men won their championship belts at Tropical Turmoil in June, and they still have a stranglehold over them nearly three months later.
Richard Parker: I hope you like the words “forever champs”, because that’s what these two are!
FLAMBERGE and Cecilworth exchange looks over the order of announcements, but shrug their shoulders and enter the ring. Joe and Sid only go as far as the ring apron, with the erstwhile Winds of Change staring daggers at Jared Sykes in particular.
As “Choke” fades, the champions remove their title belts from around their waists and shoulders, and hand them off to ringside attendants. It does, however, take a lot longer for Cecilworth to willfully hand off his cellphone. There’s stalling. A Lord and his cellphone aren’t easily parted, after all.
After an excruciating amount of time, longer than we’re really comfortable describing if we’re being honest, Cecilworth passes his phone off to the attendant as well.
With both teams in the ring, Jimmy Turnbull calls for the bell to ring.
Cecilworth and FLAMBERGE spend an inordinate amount of time trying to decide who starts the match. There is a game of rock-paper-scissors, you see. The two Glueboiz wear determined faces that they hadn’t, at any point, had for this match at all. Neither wish to lose this. Oh, sure, there’s a match about to happen and both of those guys are interested in face-punching the two of them to death, but let’s be real. This is about Cecilworth Farthington and FLAMBERGE. This one little competition will determine everything.
Nick Stuart: What are these two boneheads doing?
Richard Parker: Quiet! There must be a winner!
They shoot, and both have scissors. Both men are disgusted by this turn of events, judging from the expressions on their faces. Farthington clenches his jaw. FLAMBERGE looks a little more lizard-y than he already does. They try again, and are collectively bewildered when they both go for rock. Farthington throws his head up to the sky, a yell of rage at whatever sky mongrel is looking down on him. FLAMBERGE’s arms move as though they’re pulled and dropped by puppet strings. Neither man can believe it.
Richard Parker: This competition is really heating up!
Nick Stuart: (inarticulate sounds of disgust)
Sykes approaches the two of them, ready to get the match started on his side as the chosen legal man. FLAMBERGE and Farthington both hold up their hands to make him stop, asking him to wait a moment while they settle this clearly much more important thing. The two of them stare at one another intently, beads of sweat starting to form on their brows. This is it. This would settle it for sure. They shoot again.
Both land on paper.
Richard Parker: This! Is! Awe! Some! (clap, clap, clapclapclap)
Nick Stuart: STOP that.
Farthington stomps on the mat in sheer frustration and turns away, gripping the top rope as though doing anything else might result in terrible thoughts. Oh no, not the thoughts! Anything but the thoughts! Meanwhile, FLAMBERGE can only look up at the sky as though asking God (or whatever’s driving his brain) why he could not win against Cecilworth.
After a long pause, Farthington and FLAMBERGE turn to do this one more time.
It doesn’t happen, though, because Jared Sykes is ready to choose for them. He finally charges in and pelts both Farthington and FLAMBERGE with a double flying clothesline, sending both men falling to the mat!
Nick Stuart: Oh! Jared Sykes doesn’t want to wait!
Richard Parker: What are you doing!? You’re ruining the big competition!
Nick Stuart: What are you talking about!?
Sykes pulls Farthington up, choosing him as the de facto winner of the competition (much to the visible chagrin of FLAMBERGE on the outside), and belts him in their own corner with a few right hands. FLAMBERGE trips Sykes up on the outside before he can really take advantage, pulling him to the floor. This only earns him a hard fist to the face, before he’s thrown into the ring post by the feet of Joe and Sid.
Joe backs off while hiding behind Sid, as Sykes decides to re-enter the ring to deal with Farthington. Farthington has stumbled out to the center of the ring, somewhat dazed from getting face-punched more times than should be deemed polite. Sykes hits him with a bulldog, sending Farthington’s face into the mat. A pin leads to a quick two count, before Sykes grabs an arm and applies a top wristlock.
Farthington, being a submission specialist, is nonplussed by this. He rolls through and reverses the hold into his own top wristlock, then transitions right into a headlock. Then he releases and spins around to take Sykes down with a drop toe hold. He grabs the arm, looking for the Fujiwara armbar, but Sykes rolls through and gets to his feet first. He grabs a headlock of his own, so Farthington pushes him into the ropes and shoves him to the other side. Sykes bounces off the ropes and ducks Farthington’s clothesline, then grabs Farthington and whips him into the ropes as well. Drop down, leapfrog, and Sykes catches Farthington with an armdrag when he returns. And back into the top wristlock.
Farthington slaps the mat once, not tapping out but because this vexes him.
Nick Stuart: Sykes holding his own here against maybe the most lethal submissionist in all of PRIME.
Richard Parker: In PRIME history, even. Maybe even world history. I bet he went back in time and showed the Spanish Inquisition a thing or two about torture.
Nick Stuart: Stop it.
Farthington gets up again, but as he’s about to go for the counter, it’s Sykes who surprises him, taking him over with another armdrag that puts him close to the Glue side of things. Farthington pops up, but he’s merely standing there, annoyed by how that went. He visibly doesn’t really want to tag in FLAMBERGE, but he stands too close to the corner and FLAMBERGE casually tags himself into the match.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE tagging himself in to bail out Farthington, now…
Richard Parker: No, Farthington was clearly about to strangle Sykes to death and FLAMBERGE obviously wants that neck for himself.
The French Phenom enters the ring with the casual cool of a man with ridiculous confidence. A confidence that comes from riding an eleven match winning streak – currently tied for longest in the history of PRIME – under the guise of neck collecting. He steps right up to Sykes, going nose-to-nose with him. An attempt at a hard forearm to the face is ducked, and Sykes quickly takes advantage with a fireman’s carry takeover into the armbar. FLAMBERGE quickly gets to his feet. A go-behind into a hammerlock gets FLAMBERGE a headlock of his own, but Sykes quickly slips out and latches in his own hammerlock.
FLAMBERGE backs Sykes into a corner, but the corner he backs him into is the Glute Factory’s corner. Which is to say, where Hayes Hanlon waits.
Hanlon smiles as he blind tags himself into the match.
Nick Stuart: Hanlon’s in!
Richard Parker: Abort! Abort! Wait, what’s French for abort!?
FLAMBERGE can’t exactly abort. Sykes has him thoroughly restrained with the hammerlock, and that allows ‘ol Hammerin’ Hanlon to grab hold of the French Phenom in a headlock and pull him to the center of the ring. Hanlon isn’t exactly known for his technical aptitude in comparison to the other three men in this match, but he manages to transition from the headlock to a leg trip. FLAMBERGE falls onto his stomach and gets up to see Hanlon winding up a big right hand. The right hand is telegraphed enough that FLAMBERGE is able to avoid it, backing away quickly with a wide-eyed look on his face.
This allows Cecilworth to reach over and tag himself into the match. I mean, he tags him by kinda poking him on the shoulder, and that counts because referee Jimmy Turnbull is nice like that.
FLAMBERGE shoots Cecilworth a look, but nods in understanding and steps out of the ring.
There’s an electricity in the crowd as the former two-time Universal champion and the current 5-Star champion stare each other down. So much buzzing.
Nick Stuart: Cecilworth Farthington and Hayes Hanlon are staring each other down!
After a long moment of staring, both men back off and begin circling each other. After a full revolution between them, the two lock up. It doesn’t take a lot of jockeying before Hanlon is able to push Farthington into the neutral corner. Hanlon threatens a big punch, which Farthington flinches away from, but Hanlon gives him a little slap on the chest and invites Farthington to try again.
Nick Stuart: Hanlon’s remarkably restrained here compared to usual, but that cockiness is still there.
Richard Parker: He can’t afford to make a mistake against Cecilworth! That’s a man that snaps limbs like dried spaghetti, and then stirs tendons into a boiling pot with a dash of salt! And then he pours tomato sauce of pain over the top of all that! Cook, serve, delicious!
Wow. What the fuck, Richard?
Richard Parker: …That analogy got away from me in a hurry.
Nick Stuart: Jesus Christ.
Let’s move away from that and never speak of it again.
Hanlon and Farthington lock up again. Farthington goes behind and into a hammerlock, but Hanlon quickly grabs him in a headlock with his other arm to force a stalemate. Farthington gives up the hammerlock in order to grab the arm holding his head. He slips out, turning it into a top wristlock. Hanlon grimaces, but grits his teeth and keeps Farthington from forcing him to the canvas even when Farthington puts his leg behind Hanlon’s for more leverage. Eventually, Farthington realizes that this plan isn’t working out, so he abandons the wristlock and steps around Hanlon’s back until he can grab another side headlock.
Hanlon calmly pushes Farthington into the ropes, whereupon Sykes grabs another blind tag.
When Farthington releases the hold since they’re in the ropes and Jimmy Turnbull is doing this really annoying thing where he yells numbers into his ear, Hanlon looks up at Sykes with a murky expression. He’s clearly unhappy about the tag.
Nick Stuart: A little dissention in the ranks of the, uh…
Nick can be heard shuffling some papers.
Nick Stuart: …Dump Trucks? Why are they called the Dump Trucks?
Richard Parker: Because they both have thangs that you back up, and sometimes they have huge loads that they have to dump out.
Nick Stuart: I don’t follow.
Richard Parker: Theys gots amazing butts.
Nick Stuart: Oh.
Sykes hops into the ring. He and Farthington look to lock up again, but Sykes catches him in a go-behind into a waistlock. He lifts Farthington up and drops him to the ground on his stomach, floating over into a headlock. Farthington slips out and transitions right into a hammerlock, and then tries to grab the other arm for a submission. Instead, Sykes slips out of the hammerlock and turns the situation into a fireman’s carry takeover. Farthington gets caught in another headlock, and has to stand up. When he does, he pushes Sykes into the ropes, only to catch a dropkick that sends Farthington scuttling out to the outside! FLAMBERGE immediately enters the ring, but he takes a dropkick as well that sends him to the outside, as well!
Sykes sees a golden opportunity, and runs into the ropes for the suicide dive!
He doesn’t make it.
While everyone’s eyes are on Sykes’ destination, no one sees Joe Fontaine grabbing at Sykes’ boot. Sykes stumbles, and all of his momentum is stopped, though he manages to stay on his feet.
Nick Stuart: Oh, come on! Jimmy, get those two dorks out of there!
Fontaine ducks under the ring apron, hoping that no one sees him there. But someone does. His name is Hayes Hanlon. Hanlon drops off of the ring apron, and marches towards Fontaine. Fontaine scurries away. Bravely. Anyone who thinks he’s screaming like a little girl at the sight of an angry mustache with a human being attached to it is clearly insane.
He reaches the ramp where Sid is waiting, and Hanlon only stops to reach under the ring apron and pull out a steel chair. The eyes of the erstwhile Winds of Change go wide when Hanlon continues marching towards the two of them. Joe Fontaine turns and takes off in a dead sprint to the back, and Hanlon chases after him. Sid, bewildered, barely dodges an errant swing from Hanlon before he follows after him.
Nick Stuart: Hayes Hanlon is taking matters into his own hands, and he’s chasing Joe Fontaine and Sid Phillips out of the ringside area!
Richard Parker: That’s not smart!
In the ring, Sykes is confused on what’s just transpired. His tag team partner chases Joe and Sid all the way to the backstage area, and remains in pursuit even afterwards they’re gone. He’s all alone.
Jared Sykes has thrived as a tag team specialist in PRIME. Despite the end of the PRIME tag division, he remains half of the PRIME tag team champions. But his normal tag team partner isn’t in his corner tonight. At the moment, no one is.
Farthington jumps back up onto the apron, but Sykes meets him with a running elbow that knocks him off and into FLAMBERGE on the floor. This time, Sykes grasps the top rope and slingshots over the top rope and into both of the Glueboiz on the floor!
Nick Stuart: Sykes with a plancha out to the floor!
Richard Parker: Oh no! Get it together, Cecilworth! FLAMBERGE! You got this!
Nick Stuart: He doesn’t need encouragement!
Sykes throws Farthington back into the ring. He quickly goes for the pin, but it only gets two as Farthington pushes Sykes off of him. Sykes grabs Farthington by the head, then spins him around and drops him with the hangman’s neckbreaker. Another cover is followed by another two count.
FLAMBERGE jumps up onto the apron to return to the Glue corner. When Sykes grabs Farthington and sends him into the ropes, FLAMBERGE blind tags himself into the match. Farthington stops himself on the ropes before he can rebound, but Sykes feels FLAMBERGE coming from behind him and pops him with a no-look back elbow. It’s probably the lizard smell, TBH.
Farthington charges on Sykes thanks to the momentary distraction, but Sykes catches him with a back body drop that sends the Financier into Le Protagoniste, wiping both of them out!
Richard Parker: Oh no!
Nick Stuart: Sykes is holding his own against the 5-Star and Intense Champions! But how long can he do it when Hayes Hanlon isn’t there to make the tag!?
Sykes knows that FLAMBERGE is the legal man now, judging from the fact that he pulls the Strasbourg native up to his feet by his hair. He grabs FLAMBERGE’s arms, setting up for the Angel Halo, but FLAMBERGE elbows his way out of it. Then he whips Sykes into the ropes and goes for a big hip toss, but Sykes twists in the air and lands on his feet in front of FLAMBERGE. A kick in the gut. A snap suplex. Sykes rolls through and then lands a sliding elbow strike on FLAMBERGE, falling down into the cover. It only gets two, though.
Farthington’s back in the Glue corner, more than a little dazed from being backdropped into his partner. He watches as Sykes pulls FLAMBERGE to his feet, looking to put things away with the Omega 13. He has to. It’s the only way he can survive the situation he finds himself in.
But FLAMBERGE slips out, and then hits him with an overhead kick that would’ve made Pelé himself proud. It’s an almost uncharacteristic move from FLAMBERGE, but it’s effective in knocking Sykes down. The Neck Collector moves in to collect what is rightfully his, but Sykes grabs him by the front of his trunks and yanks him into the corner.
There’s a problem.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE in the corner, and Farthington just tagged himself in!
Farthington drops off of the apron before Sykes can see him, so that when Sykes gets up and goes to collect FLAMBERGE from the corner, he doesn’t see the Financier. Sykes grabs FLAMBERGE, looking for another neckbreaker on the Neck Collector. Which really spoils the market value of the neck, it should be noted. Really questionable on why we let a neckbreaker specialist out here with a guy who really cares about collecting necks. Super questionable.
Anyway, Farthington clips Sykes’ knee from behind.
Nick Stuart: Farthington cuts Sykes low!
Richard Parker: That wasn’t going to last forever. That’s the Glueminati! Cecilworth Farthington and FLAMBERGE! Even if Jared Sykes cloned himself with some kind of shadow clone jutsu and learned the Rasengan, he would still fall short of this two-man neck murder show.
Nick Stuart: …What the hell are you talking about?
Richard Parker: I don’t know. It’s like the spirit of anime possessed me for a moment. Have you seen the promotional art for this match? It’s wild.
Farthington aims several stomps down on Sykes’ knee, before leaving his foot jammed in the crook of the knee. He reached down and grabbed Sykes’ foot, and wrenched the knee. Sykes yells in agony, because that’s naturally what you do when an ornery Englishman tries to rip your leg off at the knee. When Sykes tries to reach up to grab at Farthington, Farthington instead grabs Sykes’ arm by the wrist. Placing his other foot on Sykes’, Farthington starts to wrench on Sykes’ wrist and fingers with his hands instead.
There is so much screaming, you guys.
Nick Stuart: Cecilworth has a submission on Sykes!
Richard Parker: It’s a bit hard to describe!
I literally just described it, though…
Fortunately for him, Sykes is just close enough to the ropes that he’s able to scooch his butt over to grab hold of them and never let go.
FLAMBERGE casually steps into the ring as Turnbull administers the five count to make Farthington break, and then delivers a leaping knee drop on Sykes’ outstretched arm grabbing the ropes.
Jared Sykes has a known history of issues with his right shoulder, dating back to his time in Sin City Championship Wrestling. FLAMBERGE’s leaping knee targeted that same arm, and Jared Sykes was in so much agony that he let go of the ropes immediately.
FLAMBERGE rolls under the bottom rope, smirking to the crowd. He holds his arms out and gyrates his hips a little, proud that he’d delivered more pain to Sykes than Farthington could. For his part, Farthington dutifully lets go of the submission on Sykes when Turnbull’s count gets to four, but the damage has been done.
Nick Stuart: This is bad.
Richard Parker: You couldn’t have understated this any more than you just did. “This is bad”? Try apocalyptic. This is Ragnarok for Sykes. Armageddon. The two most unstoppable, unbeatable men in all of PRIME, neither of them really keen on this whole human empathy thing, and you gotta fight them alone? Bringing a knife to a bazooka fight would be a fairer fight than this.
Farthington can see that Sykes’ shoulder is giving him the most grief. He can also see that FLAMBERGE would like the tag. So, Farthington reaches over and extends one index finger. FLAMBERGE pokes that index finger with his own, and that’s a tag, baby!
Nick Stuart: This is also ridiculous.
Richard Parker: Look, even I’ll admit that they’re weirdos. But dangerous weirdos. They’re weirdos you don’t want to meet in a dark alley in Chicago on a late Saturday night when you’re drunk and maybe a little high after a night on the town with all of your mates and just looking for a quick way back to your hotel room without all of the hassle and hustle and bustle of taking the long way around.
Nick Stuart: What?
Richard Parker: They got the pro wrestling equivalent of knives, bro.
FLAMBERGE picks up Sykes, and puts him in a standing armbar. The standing part doesn’t last, because the French Phenom takes the opportunity to transition into a leg trip. He mounts Sykes, keeping the right arm locked in the submission. Sykes is not exactly in a good spot right now, but FLAMBERGE makes it worse by letting Farthington reach over and poke him in the shoulder for the tag.
Nick Stuart: Strange tags here from the Glueminati tonight.
Richard Parker: Slapping hands is just rude. It’s all about gentle finger touching, now!
Nick Stuart: Are you okay? Do you need help? You’re acting a bit weird.
Richard Parker: I am a normal amount of okay.
No, he isn’t.
Farthington enters the ring and grabs a leg, placing it in a half crab. He makes the half crab ten times worse by jamming his foot into the crook of Sykes’ knee. FLAMBERGE lets go of the armbar and exits the ring, then he walks around the post so that he and Farthington can tag again. Farthington transitions into a Fujiwara armbar, allowing FLAMBERGE the room to retake Sykes’ knee and lay in a heel hook.
After Turnbull administers the five count to make Farthington release the hold and get back to his corner, Farthington breaks at four and rolls under the bottom rope. FLAMBERGE keeps the heel hook locked in until Farthington tags himself right back in. Then FLAMBERGE transitions into a half crab, and Farthington grabs the other half of the crab. They hold this two-man International Crab until Jimmy Turnbull nearly reaches another five count, and then FLAMBERGE leaves the ring.
Did I mention the screaming? Because there is a fair amount of that. Jared is having a bad time over here.
Richard Parker: These two men are like clockwork, Nick!
Nick Stuart: They’re really risking disqualification if they keep doing this.
Finally, Farthington turns Sykes over, perhaps looking for something more dangerous than a simple half crab. Sykes, out of desperation, draws Farthington into him before shoving him back with both feet.
Sykes gets up quickly and meets Farthington with a forearm. A second one staggers Farthington back into the ropes. A third one keeps him there.
Sykes whips him into the ropes, but as he turns to do this, FLAMBERGE sneaks in a blind tag on Farthington before he’s launched. Farthington reverses to send Sykes into the ropes. When he returns, Farthington launches Sykes into the air behind him, and…
That sound is FLAMBERGE leaping up and smashing a descending Sykes in the face with a high knee. Sykes hits the ground like a broken doll.
Richard Parker: That’s it, he’s dead.
FLAMBERGE slides into a cover.
Jared Sykes is a survivor, and we aren’t just talking about his victory in last year’s Tag Team Survivor. He’s survived Paxton Ray. He’s survived the Love Convoy. No matter what he’d say, Ivan Stanislav could not break him. That knee might have ended the nights of so many other people, but not Jared Sykes. Not yet.
As Farthington exits the ring, FLAMBERGE starts dropping hard 12-to-6 elbows onto the top of Sykes’ head. It’s a thunderstorm. A deluge. The elbows just don’t stop coming and they don’t stop coming and they don’t stop coming and they don’t stop coming and they don’t stop coming…
Nick Stuart: This is starting to get uncomfortable to watch.
…and they don’t stop coming…
Richard Parker: I’m having a great time! Want some popcorn?
…and they don’t stop coming…
Nick Stuart: I… when the hell did you get popcorn!?
…and they don’t stop coming…
Richard Parker: Secret.
…and they don’t stop coming…
Oh, wait, no. They did stop coming. Finally. Of course, FLAMBERGE had beaten Sykes with elbows badly enough that a cut has opened up around his hairline and it’s starting to pour, but that’s a small price to pay to keep us from saying “and they don’t stop coming” that many more times.
There’s activity, as fans stand up and look off to the entryway.
It’s Joe Fontaine and Sid Phillips, returning from the back after being chased off by Hayes Hanlon earlier. Sid is keeping his head on a swivel, keeping an eye out for Hanlon to show up at any moment with whatever furniture he might’ve picked up on his way. Joe Fontaine? He’s in the middle of a Fargo strut, all the way down to the ring.
Nick Stuart: What are they doing back here!? Where’s Hayes Hanlon!?
Richard Parker: They gave him the slip!
And so, Sykes’ situation is that much worse. FLAMBERGE pushes Sykes away and stands up, and Sykes is on his hands and knees in the center of the ring. He’d be smiling if there’s any human left in the lizard brain, but instead, he decides to tag (poke?) Cecilworth back into the match.
Cecilworth? He’s all smiles. Everything’s lovely right now. There’s a spring in his step as he deliberately puts himself in the Glute Factory corner, visually reminding Sykes that there is no one for him to tag. Then, as Sykes gets to his knees, Cecilworth surges forth and…
…hits him with the PK.
Nick Stuart: Penalty Kick from Farthington!
Farthington doesn’t go straight for the cover.
Instead, he takes his time to walk right back to the Glute Factory corner, all smiles. Jared Sykes is currently a type of gelatinous substance that has an armor class of 6, and it wouldn’t take much to do that much more damage to him.
Farthington rolls the dice… and it’s a natural 1.
Richard Parker: Uh oh.
Sykes catches Farthington’s boot just as it makes contact, blunting the impact. Farthington’s eyes go wide as Sykes rises from the dead, forcing him to hop up and down on one foot. Farthington only has a scant second to recognize the situation before Sykes reels him in and obliterates him with a lariat!
Nick Stuart: LARIAT BY SYKES!
Farthington’s turned topsy-turvy by the lariat, landing on his shoulders and rolling back onto his stomach. FLAMBERGE enters the ring, and then he immediately exits the ring when Sykes sidesteps him and throws him out to the floor by the feet of Fontaine and Phillips.
Jared Sykes’ shoulder is killing him. He’s moving with a small limp from the leg work done on him, too. A less stubborn man would have given up. But no one in PRIME is more stubborn than the Dragonslayer. If you’re here to tell him to give up, then get the fuck out of his way or get in a grave. Your choice.
So when he sees FLAMBERGE being helped up by Joe and Sid, he runs at the ropes and hurls himself through the ropes and into all three of them with a tope suicida!
Nick Stuart: SYKES WIPES OUT THE GLUEMINATI!
Richard Parker: Impossible!
Sykes is, miraculously, the first one on his feet. He grabs Sid by the head and manages to throw him into the steel stairs…
…then when Joe Fontaine recovers and swings a right hand (risking disqualification for the Glueboiz, the idiot), Sykes ducks it and picks him up in a back suplex position. Then he just throws Fontaine into a recovering Phillips, taking both of them down.
Sykes jumps up onto the apron, and sees FLAMBERGE recovering, so he runs along the apron and kicks him as hard as he can with his own Penalty Kick.
And down goes the Intense Champion.
Farthington is up, and he charges at Sykes. But Sykes shoots his boot through the top and middle ropes and smashes the Financier in the face, knocking him back. Then Sykes steps through the ropes, keeping his foot on the bottom rope, so that when he steps through, he’s able to springboard into Farthington with a cutter!
Nick Stuart: SYKES WITH A CUTTER!
Knowing that he needs to end this one right now, Sykes immediately pounces on Farthington for the cover.
Unfortunately for Sykes, a mere cutter isn’t enough to put down Cecilworth.
Sykes is bloodied. He knows he doesn’t have a lot of time left before the numbers and his own blood loss will be too difficult to overcome. He knows that Hanlon’s disappearance has made this match infinitely more difficult to win. He knows that if he doesn’t put away Cecilworth right here and now, this match will slip away.
Yet he has to keep trying.
He pulls Cecilworth up, tucking his head under his arm and grabbing his leg, as though he’s getting ready to put him up in the torture rack. Chicago would like that, I’m sure. But no, that’s not the intention. With a sudden rotation of his body, he sends Cecilworth straight to hell. Head first, of course.
Nick Stuart: LIGHTNING SPIRAL!
Richard Parker: OH NO!
Sykes makes another cover.
The French Phenom breaks up the pin, and despite being the illegal man, he’s pounding on Sykes with his elbows once again. Finally, he picks up Sykes, kicking him in the gut before going for the Axe Kick.
The missed kick puts FLAMBERGE off-balance, and Sykes takes the chance to shove the Intense champion into the ropes before nailing him with a flying knee that sends him through the ropes and onto the apron! Sykes turns his attention back to Farthington, who is so dazed from the cutter and the Lightning Spiral that he can’t even get to his feet right away.
Sykes knows he needs a killshot to put down the undefeated Farthington. He needs the Omega 13. But when he hooks Farthington up for the move, Farthington slips out. Actually, no. He doesn’t just slip out. He grabs Sykes’ wrist and then aims a Pelé kick directly into the upper arm.
Sykes goes down yelling. Because that was, once again, the right arm.
Nick Stuart: VICIOUS kick from Farthington to Sykes’ injured arm!
Sykes staggers away clutching his arm. He staggers right into FLAMBERGE standing on the apron, and FLAMBERGE has someone special for Jared Sykes. Her name is MARIE ANTOINETTE and she’s got her grips on Sykes in the ropes!
Nick Stuart: OH, COME ON!
Richard Parker: FLAMBERGE wants that neck for his mantle!
Nick Stuart: He’s in the ropes, and FLAMBERGE isn’t even the legal man!
FLAMBERGE cranks on the guillotine choke in the ropes, almost sliding into the ring while pulling Sykes through the ropes as he does. When referee Jimmy Turnbull’s count nearly reaches five, FLAMBERGE releasing the hold sends Sykes out to the floor.
But as this happens, the crowd’s murmurs turn to cheers.
And that’s ridiculous, considering what just happened. So, what could be happening right now, hm? Did someone in the crowd find a beach ball? No… no, what might be happening is that someone’s arriving at ringside.
Several sets of human eyes (plus one set of lizard eyes) turn their attention to the entryway at the sudden crowd noise.
Nick Stuart: HAYES HANLON IS HERE!
The Event Horizon comes marching down to ringside, holding his head. Whatever happened to him in the back has clearly affected him as he storms down ringside. Joe and Sid, wisely, clear the hell out of his way, with Joe scurrying to the clear other side of the ring and Sid following him in… considerably less of a scurrying motion.
Hanlon makes it to the ringside area, and marches over to his team’s corner. His mustache billows with anger as he climbs up and yells at Sykes to come over and make the tag.
Richard Parker: He’s so fresh that he’s unripened! Don’t let him make that tag!
Cecilworth rolls out to the ring apron, and see Sykes trying to get up off of the ground, putting a hand on the apron to steady himself. Cecilworth tries very hard to hide his smirk before he takes two steps forward and leaps off with a double stomp straight to Sykes’ arm.
Nick Stuart: GOOD GOD!
Sykes screams in pain, hold his arm close to his body. He finds it difficult to resist when Cecilworth rolls him into the ring and makes a cover.
Somehow, Sykes is able to roll his other shoulder off of the mat, though he’s in agony right now. Farthington grabs hold of Sykes’ injured wing and drags him over to the Sticky Corner, where FLAMBERGE can poke him in the shoulder for the tag.
Business as usual for the Glueboiz, even with an angry mustache staring daggers at them from the other side of the ring.
FLAMBERGE enters, and while Farthington keeps Sykes from getting away to make that pesky tag, FLAMBERGE kicks him in the gut. Once Farthington clears out of the ring, FLAMBERGE pulls Sykes into the ring. A judo hip toss, straight into a hard kick to the shoulder.
Nick Stuart: Sykes needs to make that tag!
Hanlon is leading a cheer from the crowd, raising his arms up and down. He wants the tag. He needs the tag. The fate of this entire match rides on the broken shoulders of the Dragonslayer reaching his corner.
God help them.
FLAMBERGE gives Hanlon a little wave, and then he kicks Sykes again.
Waves of pain crash into the shoulder of Jared Sykes. Hanlon puts one leg through the ropes, threatening to get in right now, but referee Turnbull immediately steps in front of him to warn him against doing it.
FLAMBERGE sees this, shrugs his shoulders, and then kicks Sykes one more time.
Nick Stuart: How much more can Sykes take here!? He’s still bleeding from FLAMBERGE’s elbows, and he’s down to one arm thanks to Farthington!
Richard Parker: It’s only a matter of time. Ain’t no way he’s making it to his corner with these two surgeons in the ring operating.
FLAMBERGE helpfully pulls Sykes up, claiming wrist control on Sykes’ bad arm as he does. Sykes chooses this moment to fight back, pelting the Neck Collector in… well, the side of his neck. After hitting him with three elbows, Sykes tries to pull free, reaching behind him towards Hanlon in a desperate bid to tag the former Universal champion into the match.
Instead, FLAMBERGE yanks on Sykes’ right arm. This makes him yelp and puts him in prime position…
…for MARIE ANTOINETTE.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE HAS SYKES IN THE GUILLOTINE! THIS MIGHT BE OVER!
Richard Parker: That neck is getting collected right now, Nick!
Sykes tries to fight it off by punching at FLAMBERGE’s side, but he has no power. He’s fading fast. There’s been a great number of men that have fallen to the Marie Antoinette. So many necks collected. So many would be challengers to the throne of the Lizard King of PRIME. Would Jared Sykes simply be another neck on the mantle?
Well, we’re not going to find out yet.
Hayes Hanlon is in the ring, and FLAMBERGE’s reaction to this is to bail on the Marie Antoinette entirely. He drops out of the body scissors and releases Sykes’ head, allowing the Dragonslayer to crumple onto the mat and breathe.
Nick Stuart: Hanlon makes FLAMBERGE break the hold!
Richard Parker: He really lost a golden opportunity at a pristine neck there!
There’s a brief staredown between the French Phenom and the Event Horizon. During this time, with the referee trying to get Hanlon out of the ring, Farthington enters the ring to pitch Sykes out of the ring again.
And, well, he lands right by the feet of Sid Phillips.
Joe pops up on the apron right in plain view of the referee to argue about the weather or whatever, and Sid sees a very golden opportunity when the referee started yelling at him to get off the apron. He picks up Sykes in a powerbomb, and then powerbombs him back-first onto the apron.
Nick Stuart: OH, COME ON!
Richard Parker: Wow. He bounced.
Rolling Sykes back into the ring, Sid walks away content that he achieved his powerbomb quota for the cycle. He definitely cut it close, let me tell you. Sykes, by the way, is in a lot of pain. His right shoulder took a lot of that powerbomb. Sid helpfully rolls him back into the ring and walks away as though he did nothing wrong, such that when Jimmy is finally able to restore order, all he sees is Jared writhing in pain on the canvas.
FLAMBERGE quickly rolls into the cover.
Hanlon was halfway through the ropes when Jared miraculously, though weakly, kicks out.
Nick Stuart: How the hell did Sykes kick out of that!?
The expression on FLAMBERGE’s face never changes. Instead, he walks over to Farthington and boops him on the nose for the tag. Farthington has a murky expression on his face for the gesture, but ignores it because there’s work to be done. Sticky work. It makes all of the arrows and the graphs go up, and that’s always a good thing.
Farthington’s all smiles as he draws Sykes into a standing headscissors. The Dragonslayer is so out of it at this point that he falls to his knees, which denies Farthington the leverage he needs for the piledriver. Farthington compels Sykes to get back to his feet so he can put him in the ground properly by smashing him in the back with forearms.
Eventually, Sykes does get to his feet. Farthington would really wish he hadn’t. When he lifts Sykes up for the piledriver, Sykes suddenly pulls his head from Farthington’s legs, and flips up until he lands on his feet right in front of Farthington. The 5-Star Champion is so bewildered that this is how Sykes’ physics works that he’s blasted into fuck by a heavy elbow strike that sends him hurling back towards the Glue corner. Sykes puts so much into it that he’s left lying on the ground afterwards, but Farthington is rocked.
Nick Stuart: Sykes… I don’t know where he’s getting this from!
Richard Parker: He made a deal with the devil! With Satan himself! With at least 14 of the 72 demons of the Ars Goetia!
Nick Stuart: I doubt that.
Richard Parker: Then explain the Bonafides and the Troy Boys.
Nick Stuart: …No.
Unfortunately, Farthington’s rocked into the corner, so FLAMBERGE quickly takes the tag (poke?). He enters the ring to cut Sykes off from making the tag, grabbing at Sykes’ foot as he crawls on the ground. Sykes crawls desperately towards Hanlon’s outstretched hand, who is encouraging the crowd to get into it by slapping the turnbuckle pad repeatedly.
Sykes finally gets his free leg under him, and then twists around for an enzuigiri to the side of FLAMBERGE’s head!
FLAMBERGE staggers, not quite knocked down from the blow, but he’s stunned enough that Sykes could make a leap for Hanlon’s outstretched hand.
A lot of things happen at once.
First, Farthington gets in the ring. This immediately gets the attention of referee Jimmy Turnbull, blinding him to what would’ve been a legal tag… if it’d happened. Instead, Joe Fontaine (really earning his stripes as a professional weasel tonight) grabs hold of Hanlon’s ankles in an effort to pull him off of the ring apron. It’s an effort that doesn’t go anywhere for him, since Hayes is so strong and his badonkadonk is even stronger. It does, however, have the effect of earning Hanlon’s undivided attention.
Nick Stuart: No! There’s no tag! Hanlon’s distracted by Fontaine!
Hanlon pushes Fontaine off of him with a foot, and then drops off of the apron. You could almost see smoke billowing from under his mustache, as though tiny little Dusks were operating somewhere deep inside his skull. Fontaine certainly could, because he’s backing away as though he has the fear of God in him.
Richard Parker: Imma laugh if he chases Fontaine all the way to the back again, not gonna lie.
Fortunately, Hanlon realizes that he’s in a “fool me once” scenario and doesn’t take the “shame on me” scenario that would’ve followed. He hops back up on the apron after chasing Fontaine around the corner, and shouts at Sykes to make a tag already.
Meanwhile, FLAMBERGE recovers from the enzuigiri long enough to pull Sykes by his feet back to the center of the ring, towards the Glue corner. He waits for Sykes to try to get up. The axe kick that follows has an air of finality to it. An exclamation point. The end. FLAMBERGE goes for the cover.
THRE-FOOT ON THE ROPES.
FLAMBERGE stares at Sykes’ foot in bewilderment. The gears in his head were replaced by lizards about a year ago, so you’ll have to forgive him for not quite realizing the problem of pulling Sykes into the Glue corner. Farthington tags himself in with another poke, and both he and FLAMBERGE work together for corporate glue synergy! They pull Sykes to his feet and, together, attempted to drop him with a double back suplex.
There’s a problem, though.
Sykes flips over the two of them and lands on his feet behind them. The Glueminati chaps exchange one look with each other, and realize that their quarry has escaped. So they turn.
And Sykes, bad shoulder and all, has one last burst of adrenaline left. FLAMBERGE goes for a roundhouse kick. It’s ducked by Sykes, who catches Farthington with an elbow to the gut to double him over. As FLAMBERGE recovers from the whiff, Sykes throws Farthington into him as though he was making the Financier involuntarily spear his own tag team partner. Both Glueminati members go down.
Joe Fontaine jumps up onto the apron. Sykes has something for him, too. It’s a big palm strike – well, more like a slap – that sends Fontaine flying off of the apron and into the arms of Sid Phillips, sending both of them to the ground.
Fans erupt. Hanlon leads them on in cheering for Sykes as he makes the long crawl towards his team’s corner.
Richard Parker: No!
Nick Stuart: JARED SYKES HAS CLEARED THE WAY! HE JUST NEEDS TO GET TO HANLON!
It feels like an eternity away, but Jared Sykes – one half of the most vaunted tag team to have ever walked PRIME’s halls – has been here plenty of times before. It’s a different partner, sure, but it still works out the same.
And then, finally…
Nick Stuart: HANLON IS IN!
Richard Parker: Oh no! Get out of there, Cecilworth!
Both FLAMBERGE and Farthington get up. They’re exhausted. They’d spent so much of this match beating down Sykes that even two men as dangerous as they are aren’t sure what to do about a fresh-as-daisies Hayes Hanlon.
There’s a tension in the air as Hanlon decides which one of the Glueminati he’s going to beat down first. Farthington and FLAMBERGE cautiously rise to their feet, neither wishing to make the first move and catch the Event Horizon’s hands.
There’s a brief, shocked silence.
Hayes Hanlon pops up after hitting one of his most devastating moves, and stares down with a murky-at-best expression on his face at his victim.
Confusion is in the air, but everything goes straight to hell the moment the crowd realizes what just happened.
Nick Stuart: Wha… WHAT THE HELL!?
Hanlon doesn’t move. Behind him, the seemingly bewildered expressions of Farthington and FLAMBERGE turn into smirks.
Jimmy Turnbull doesn’t know what to do. It’s clearly not a situation he’d ever been trained in. When Farthington sneaks on top of Sykes for the cover, he almost doesn’t realize that there is still a match that he has to officiate. At least, until Hanlon growls at him to “COUNT!”
DING DING DING
Even after the bell, there’s enough shock that there’s a delayed reaction from everyone. Vince Howard does not immediately make an announcement. Both commentators are stunned silent. Even the guy operating the PA system doesn’t quite get the memo that there should be some delightful tunes playing right now.
When Vince Howard finally gets enough in him to make the announcement, he can barely be heard over the fans’ increasing boos.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen… the winners of this match… FLAMBERGE AND CECILWORTH FARTHINGTOOOON!
FLAMBERGE moves forward with every intention of claiming the perfectly good neck of Jared Sykes. He gets as far as pulling him up halfway and preparing to apply the Marie Antoinette once again before Hanlon places a hand on his shoulder. He can be seen mouthing the words, “That’s enough.”
FLAMBERGE looks up at Hanlon, and for a moment, it looks like there’s going to be a fight. But once Farthington steps in between the two, things seem to be quelled. FLAMBERGE drops Sykes to the ground as though he’s made of wasps, and exits the ring. Farthington gives Hanlon a nod and does the same. And after another pause to look down at Sykes’ fallen body, Hanlon joins the Glueminati on the outside, along with a recovering Joe and Sid.
Nick Stuart: Folks, I… I don’t know what just happened, but… Hayes Hanlon is walking out of here with the Glueminati.
Richard Parker: I… I didn’t see this coming! Oh, man, I’m gonna have so much to talk about in the Cecilworth fanclub meeting later tonight!
“Choke” finally cues up in the PA system as a confused Jimmy Turnbull checks on the condition of Jared Sykes. Cameras cut back to the four – possibly now five – members of the Glueminati standing at the entryway with their arms raised in victory.
One thing is made clear with this final shot.
Y’all better get used to this sticky situation you’re all in.