A POUND OF FLESH
The camera cuts to the back, a hallway, in front of a dressing room. There are three people standing in front of a door. In the middle is the massive hunk of human meat who ran afoul of WON ACTION NEWS. Chick Grillbreast. To his left, the fiery and feisty Puertorriquena with the dyed-red pixie cut who made acquaintances with Crash. Miranda DC. To his right, the old but hardened old Turk with the thick moustache and eternal scowl who threatened to turn the ship burner into kebab. Captain Suleimon. All of them are quiet. A voice pops in from off-camera.
Voice: You probably know the story by now.
Walking slowly but purposefully into frame, in front of the triad standing in front of the dressing room door, is The Anglo Luchador, the common thread binding the three of them together. He’s shot from the waist up, his lucha mask and shirtless, still sweating from his match earlier, visible to the audience at home.
TAL: Three of a kind slip up and get caught on camera. All three of them have something in common. And you probably know why they’re here too, but they’re not what you want to know about. Yeah, it’s cool that you get to see special guests, but as cool as these folks are, the SHOOT Sin City Champion, the man with the least body fat in history, and this old salt…
Suleimon raises his hand like he wants to smack The Luchador.
TAL: …they’re not what you were waiting for from me. No. You want a stipulation. You wanna see how I’m gonna beat Rose at Colossus. Well, who am I to keep you waiting?
Chick Grillbreast: A PUNY LUCHADOR?
TAL: Not now, Chick, please.
The huge mass of muscle and two brain cells (if we’re being generous) snorts.
TAL: This year has been challenging, exhausting. I had to endure being torn down, cell by cell, until I could find an in to build myself back up again. I don’t know if I have that in, or at least I wouldn’t have if I walked into this match down four. But for all I’ve lost in the last year, the Intense Championship, Nora, my peace, my brother’s health, respect, everything, there’s one thing I’ve more than anything else.
He focuses his gaze on the camera with a scowl visibly burning through his mask
A curious roar can be heard from the arena outside.
TAL: And the funny thing is, I don’t even care. I made myself bleed at Great American Nightmare last year. I don’t hate bleeding. But man, I hate bleeding in vain. And I’ve bled in vain so fucking much this year that it kills me. But this match, the “in vain” portion is going to end, because no matter the result, the blood will mean something. If I bleed, then the earth will be salted. I can hit rock bottom and really experience what it means to start over again, to be lower than the burning ship guy or whatever refugee from the pirate millionaire’s sinking ship decides to come here because it really is better.
The Luchador throws his head back and deeply inhales.
TAL: But if I win, if I make you bleed, Rose, then I show I can take the pound of flesh just as much as I can lose it. I’m not as far away as I feel. So if you haven’t figured it out by now, for the dorks online who need everything spelled out for them, here’s the stipulation. FIRST BLOOD.
The roar from the crowd can be heard more loudly now.
TAL: And that’s why I have these people here. Rose has KING. In a match where there are no rules except to make your opponent pop a gusher, well, going in one-on-five would be stupid, even for a wrestling good guy. I recruited some of my tightest people in this business outside of Timo. Conflicts of interest are a son of a bitch.
Richard Parker: The way the crooked officiating is here in PRIME, I’m shocked he wasn’t allowed to be there anyway!
Nick Stuart: Will you stop it?
TAL: So I went out and I got someone who considers me a mentor, the brightest young prospect in SHOOT Project, Miranda DC.
Mira flashes the “hook ‘em, horns” hand sign and smirks.
TAL: And even though he’s not the graceful high-flier he once was, Captain Suleimon is still one of the toughest assholes I’ve ever seen, even at his old age.
Suleimon raises his hands and cracks his knuckles.
TAL: And this galoot behind me, all I have to do is tell him you dickheads carbo-load every day of the week and he will annihilate you. Chick Grillbreast may not be the brightest bulb in the pack, but if he gets his hands on you, you’ll turn into a singularity.
Chick Grillbreast: Carbo-loading makes me SO. MAD.
He lets out a primal scream that can be heard in New Orleans.
TAL: Now, I know that some out there like KING and Richard Parker aren’t very good at math.
Richard Parker: Hey! D means degree!
TAL: But I only have three allies here when there could be four members of KING on the outside trying to start shit. Well, the last person I could recruit had to be family. Timo is my brother from another mother, but again, he’s a referee. My real brother, the only one I can count on, is still kinda injured. My two kids aren’t old enough to watch my back. So that leaves one option left, an option that one of your goons is intimately familiar with, Rose.
Nick Stuart: Oh my! Could it?
TAL: If there aren’t any siblings or offspring available, well, the next best thing would be the offspring of a sibling…
The Luchador turns around, doing his best Vanna White at the door. Or at least he thinks he’ll be able to do that except Chick is still standing there.
TAL: Chick, that was your cue to move.
Chick Grillbreast: OH, SORRY PUNY LUCHADOR. My head’s been feeling funny ever since I had that protein shake that Max Question Mark gave me.
TAL: Just move.
The behemoth steps to his right and reveals that the locker room door has a coat of arms on it. Three kaiju – a shark and a rhino flanking a minotaur – standing behind the black Number Three Goodwrench car. The official seal of Bolambaland.
TAL: That’s right. The Slap-Fighting Champion of Nelson County, Kentucky. The son of the Samoan Silencer, by wrestling stipulation. The Grand Generalissimo of Bolambaland. Garry. Ray-Ray. Nelson. Bolamba.
The crowd roars again.
Richard Parker: Not this moron again!
TAL: Rose, Noble, the rest of you goons, I’m done fucking around. You picked the wrong hero to defenestrate. At Colossus, you’re gonna bleed, and my army is going to make sure that happens.
Nick Stuart can be heard hooting as the camera cuts to the ring.