A HOUSE IS NOT A HOME
Nick Stuart: These fans come to their feet as it looks like we’re about to be joined by the Marathon Man, Impulse!
Richard Parker: It’s nice to see him coming out to the ring for something other than a match, he’s been hiding in the back since he got that tainted win over Nova.
Nick Stuart: …You’re just waiting for a drink, aren’t you?
It doesn’t take long for Impulse to emerge from backstage to a strong ovation. He is quickly joined by Calico Rose, carrying a small bag that definitely gets Richard’s attention.
Nick Stuart: I’m gonna put you on the spot here, Richard. Will this be about the PRIME Universal Championship that changed hands last episode of ReVival? Will it be about his match with Nova and the controversial finish? Will it be the continued tensions with rookie sensation Hayes Hanlon?
Richard Patrick: Will it be Nick Stuart filling the space with words because he can’t wait ten seconds?
The two separate at the foot of the ramp, with Impulse retrieving a microphone from Vince Howard and Cally joining the commentators on the other side of their table. She pulls a bottle of Jamison from the bag, along with three shot glasses.
Calico Rose: Drink!
She downs hers in one gulp, while muffled coughing can be heard on commentary. Cally smiles at them, leaves the bottle, and climbs the ring steps to join Impulse between the ropes. The music dies down while Impulse gives Cally a kiss on the side of the head. She settles into a corner while he paces in the middle of the ring.
Impulse: Well… Been a minute, huh?
Impulse: I’ve been fortunate. For practically all of my career I’ve had your support. I’ve heard the cheers, and it’s made me appreciate what I’m fortunate enough to do. And I’ve heard the boos as well, and I appreciate those, because it’s made me want to work harder. But whether you like me, love me, or hate me… you paid your money to be here and the least I can do is be who I am.
Impulse: Beyond anything else, I’m always real.
The crowd gives a decent pop to this line.
Richard Parker: Pandering at its finest.
Nick Stuart: Stop it, Richard.
Impulse: There’s people in this company who have a problem with the fact that I speak my mind and don’t toe a company line. Fact is, I’ve never done that in my entire career, and sure, it’s cost me some merch money from time to time, but it’s a small price to pay for authenticity. Besides, right now shallow words don’t matter. Personal slights don’t matter.
Another pause, to let the crowd’s anticipation buzz.
Impulse: I walked into the doors of this company almost nine months ago because I was looking for something I hadn’t had in years – a home in this sport. And I’ve by and large found one. And I’m not about to let it get torn apart from within just because those who were supposed to be defending it were too busy bickering amongst themselves.
Nick Stuart: Wisdom coming from the Marathon Man tonight.
Impulse: What we really need to do, if we want this house called PRIME to stand… is listen…
Cheers erupt at the drop of the Hall of Famer’s name.
Impulse: It’s like Nova told me two weeks ago – they’re coming for him. Which means they’re going to eventually come for me, and for the rest of PRIME. And if we want this revival to succeed… if we want to defend our home… sooner or later we’re all going to have to take a stand against MESSIAH.
Richard Parker: Are they like Candyman? Is Bruce about to appear in the crowd?
Impulse: The problem is that the cult is a hive mind… they think with one mind. Opposite them? A collection of flawed individuals whose only common link is respect for Nova and for PRIME. The former guy is on a personal revenge mission over losing his title in an unofficial handicap match, and Nova’s number one fan Hayes can’t see the forest for the trees.
And right on cue, We Came as Romans joins the party.
A pop from the MGM crowd as the white flash bulbs fill the arena. In what is certainly an abbreviated entrance, The Event Horizon steps onto the ramp, clad in his casual black button-down shirt, sleeves rolled up, microphone in hand.
Nick Stuart: And the former Five Star Champ may take exception to that last comment!
The music fades off, leaving only the still cheering crowd. The black crumb-catcher on his lip twitches back and forth a little for pause, and the crowd quiets as Hanlon raises his mic.
Hayes Hanlon: Say his name, Knox.
Impulse just stares at him, an amused look on his face.
Calico Rose: (off-mic) Francis?
Hayes Hanlon: C’mon man, don’t be afraid of it. Say his name.
The fans buzz in anticipation as Impulse teases the microphone.
Impulse: The former Champion hasn’t earned it, and he’ll be just as big a liability until he’s done with his roaring rampage of revenge.
Hayes Hanlon: Hasn’t earned it? Are you still trying to die on that hill, or does he have to give you another concussion?
A low rumble of “ooooohs” from the crowd. Hanlon wipes at his ‘stache.
Hayes Hanlon: And ‘Pulse, the only reason you get to call him “former Champion” is thanks to Flambo signing his death sentence with the interference last show, but I guess you and Atken have that in common, huh?
Further rumblings. Hayes starts walking down the ramp, allowing the crowd to settle.
Nick Stuart: Oof, Hanlon coming in with the barbs.
Richard Parker: Kid’s got a point, Nick.
Hayes Hanlon: Look man, we’re on the same side. MESSIAH’s coming. I’ve squared up with Bathory and took the loss, I’ve got skin in this game.
He ascends the stairs and climbs through the ropes before stepping up to Impulse. Not in a threatening way, but with urgency.
Hayes Hanlon: But when MESSIAH really comes for PRIME, and you’re standing next to Nova, you’d better hope the “former Champion” is standing next to you, too. And his name is BRANDON. YOUNGBLOOD.
Hayes lowers the mic, jaw jutted and lips curled. If Impulse is amused, bothered, angered… his expression betrays nothing.
Impulse: You get a bigger reaction from the crowd saying his name than anything else you’ve said so far tonight. How’s that make you feel, Hayes? What do you get out of being the former Champion’s press agent? The fact is, he had my number. Twice. I don’t deny that or shy away from it. But I’m not the one who made it personal between me and him, so I’m not gonna be losing any sleep over any perceived insult you’re feeling on his behalf because I call him… The. Former. Champion. It’s an unforgiving business, Bambi – live with it.
The Event Horizon rolls his eyes and shakes his head, clearly a little bristled at the nickname. His brown eyes turn back to The Marathon Man, and the fans buzz at the look between the two athletes.
Nick Stuart: That was uncalled for.
Richard Parker: But it was funny.
Nick Stuart: Pick a side, Richard.
Impulse: (pacing back and forth) I’m sorry, Hayes. Now, that? That was over the line. And I can tell how much you hate it when I call you Bambi.
Nick Stuart: Impulse really is playing with fire here!
Impulse: That’s one thing we’ve all got in common – we’ve all had a run in with MESSIAH in some fashion. Some of us won, some of us lost, but it’s all chicken scratch compared to what’s to come. And I know I can’t count on the former guy to do what needs to be done because his motives are currently selfish. But you?
Impulse: You’ve got potential. Problem is?
He gestures to himself and to Hayes.
Impulse: There’s no trust here.
Hayes snorts and lifts his mic.
Hayes Hanlon: It’s funny that you think I was looking for it in the first place.
Hanlon takes a beat, then begins to pace.
Hayes Hanlon: And even funnier that you actually believe any of that, my dude. Youngblood wasn’t always the teddy bear he is this time around, but you’re gonna tell me that he’s not the first guy out of the locker room to dive head-first into the party?
Hayes steps in close, looking around Randall’s left and right, inspecting him.
Hayes Hanlon: You’re gonna stand there and claim that you’re that guy?
The Event Horizon takes one step back.
Hayes Hanlon: You really are The Gatekeeper, huh?
Richard Parker: Now who’s playing with fire?
Impulse: If I was gatekeeping anything in this company, Hayes… I wouldn’t still be standing here in the ring giving you my undivided attention. After talking for three minutes without saying a single original thought of your own, a ‘gatekeeper’ would’ve turned his back on you and left you standing here with your puberty ‘stache and Tiger Beat poster of the former guy to validate your point of view.
He shakes his head.
Impulse: Today’s lesson number one, Hayes – nobody in this sport will respect you as long as you’re willing – eager – to carry someone else’s luggage.
Another buzz rumbles through the crowd at the accusation.
Impulse: And lesson number two? You want something from another athlete, you don’t come down to ringside with a microphone and demand it from them. ‘Say his name?’ What you do, is you come down to ringside with your boots laced up at UltraViolence–
Before he can finish the sentence, the fans erupt in a massive cheer at what’s being discussed. Impulse stops while they get louder, and Hayes’ eyes remain locked on the Marathon Man’s.
Impulse: – and do your damnedest between the ropes. Liberate tutemet ex inferis, Hayes.
The Event Horizon’s ‘stache lifts into a grin.
Hayes Hanlon: Knox, I didn’t plan on leaving this ring without the invitation.
That massive cheer truly does, then, erupt.
Nick Stuart: OHHH MY!! The challenge issued for UltraViolence!!
Richard Parker: Make it happen, Troy!!
The roars of the crowd simmer, and Hayes returns to the mic.
Hayes Hanlon: And speaking of invitations…and this “puberty ‘stache”…
He turns his eyes to Cally.
Hayes Hanlon: …the invite’s open, and rides are free. I’ve heard you two might be into that kinda thing.
The Event Horizon turns his gaze back to The Marathon Man’s, but the return of “Black Hole” on the PA system puts an end to further conversation.
Nick Stuart: It’s getting spicy here at ReVival 14!! Impulse! Hayes Hanlon! UltraViolence!
Richard Parker: I’m here for it, Nick!!
The competitors hold tight to their stare down as the cameras fade elsewhere.