A VVIN-LOSE SITUATION
The broadcast goes elsewhere backstage. Simon Tillier is standing by in the Argyle position.
Hovering nearby, readying himself for his upcoming match, is Kerry Kuroyama.
Simon Tillier: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen! Your ever-faithful Simon Tillier is on the scene backstage, here with one of the competitors in the next first round match-up, taking place here in just a few moments… Kerry Kuroyama!
The Emerald Apex is decked out in his tights, pads, and robe, an image of athletic excellence in glimmering green and silver. He’s in a serene state of pre-match focus, stretching out his joints and jogging in place to keep loose.
Simon Tillier: Kerry, you’re moments away from your anticipated debut. How are you feeling right now? Are you nervous at all?
Kerry Kuroyama: Nervous?
Kerry Kuroyama: Please, Simon… don’t mistake me for some fresh-faced greenhorn with first match jitters. I’m perfectly calm right now. After all, I’ve had months to prepare my mind and body for this moment. I’m not about to let it all come undone to something as basic as pre-match jitters. Not knowing everything I have on stake.
His thundering gaze finds the camera.
Kerry Kuroyama: See, I know there are many out there hoping to see me fail tonight. Sharpening their knives for the moment where the high-and-mighty Kerry Kuroyama falls flat on his face and eats dirt. Chomping at the bit to say I couldn’t cut it in that other place, so I came to the federation where I’m friends with the boss.
Back to the junior reporter, hanging on every word while holding up the mic.
Kerry Kuroyama: But silencing the critics and doubters only fuels the fires of conviction, Simon. Tonight, I validate what I’ve always said and always known about myself… that I’m worth more than what I was given for the past several years. Tonight, PRIME is going to find out what Kerry Kuroyama is really about.
As soon as he says this, Kerry and Simon disappear as someone suddenly steps in front of the camera, obscuring the two with his frame-filling head and face.
Kerry and Simon lean out from behind Scott Hunter, gifting us the absurd illusion of the two of them protruding out of his ears.
Kerry Kuroyama: Scott… what the hell are you doing?
The camera operator repositions himself to fit all three men in the frame together.
Scott Hunter: Oh I saw you with this guy…
He gestures to Simon, then reaches out to shake his hand.
Scott Hunter: Hello again. I don’t know if you remember me from last week. My name is Scott.
Simon Tiller: Yes, I know. And once again, I’m Simon – –
Scott Hunter: (waving him off) Sorry, apparently, I’m not actually all that interested. (Scott puts his index finger on Simon’s lips) Shhhhhhh…
Scott turns to his Vae Victis compadre while Simon internalizes an annoyed sigh.
Kerry Kuroyama: Do you not see we’re in the middle of something here?
Scott Hunter: Middle of something? Oh right! The match, the talking, the thing. Right in the middle. By all means, continue.
The Paragon of Professional Wrestling Excellence releases an agonized sigh through clenched teeth. At his sides, his hands are reflexively clenching into balls.
It’s taking everything in him not to explode on Scott here in Argyle before the bell.
Fortunately for everyone involved, Kerry’s embattled patience wins out.
Kerry Kuroyama: Look, Scott… can I be frank right now?
Scott Hunter: As long as I can still be Scott, you can be whoever you want to be. This is America.
Kerry pauses for a beat.
His eye twitches.
Then he suppresses this micro-aneurysm and moves on.
Kerry Kuroyama: Here’s the thing, Scott. I’m feeling somewhat personally… conflicted with this match-up of ours. As in, it grieves me deeply to have you, of all the talent in this company, as my first round opponent.
His expression tenses up into the face one makes when getting a whiff of sour milk.
Kerry Kuroyama: Mind you, that’s not because I see you as capable of spoiling my grand debut in any possible way. But see, the circumstances leave our esteemed organization in a win-lose situation. While at least one of us will take the bold next step into the tournament, the other, unfortunately, will suffer the humiliation of an early elimination from this tournament.
Hell or high water that Kerry will allow himself to be the latter.
But Scott remains unphased.
Or perhaps he just isn’t picking up on Kuroyama’s subtle threats weaved into the strained inflections of his speech.
Scott Hunter: Look, Frank I understand your concern, and I share it. I once had to choose between my two favorite socks and it was a horrible, life changing trauma. Stripes or plaid?! How can I possibly choose?? It’s like choosing which one of your children must die, except even more tragic!
Simon Tiller: Why would you choose between two individual socks?
Scott Hunter: Uhhhh, because you can only wear one at a time… DUHHH!!
Scott thumbs at Simon as if to say, “this guy”. Simon just rolls his eyes.
The fingers on Kuroyama’s right hand clutch the air inches from his face like he’s trying to prevent his brain from escaping the stupidity that is ravaging his skull.
Somehow, he again suppresses the urge to put his – – or Scott’s – – head through the nearby wall plastered with Ivan Stanislav posters.
Kerry Kuroyama: Look, the most important thing, I feel, is that the two of us represent the standard of wrestling that is synonymous with Vae Victis.
Scott Hunter: Wrestling. Yes, yes. No one is more anonymous with wrestling than I am. Well, maybe a bit less so after Simone here tricked me into giving him my name.
Scott narrows his eyes as he looks at Simon.
Simon Tiller: Once again, I already knew your name! What’s the big deal?? (mocking) Do I get three wishes or something?
Scott just blinks as he looks at him.
Scott Hunter: Don’t be silly.
This time Simon just shakes his head.
Kerry Kuroyama: (ignoring all of this) Okay so here’s what I’ll propose to you: A good, straight, clean match out there. No frills. No gimmicks. Just a show of the finest wrestling the world has ever seen. And… you know… whatever it is you do. Let’s just put it all out there in the ring for the world to see, and let the better man win in the end. And when all is said and done, we’ll stand in the center of the ring… and shake hands. Like true sportsmen. That alright with you, Scott?
Scott Hunter: Anything you want, Frank. I’m looking forward to some fine athletic competitions out there tonight, or at least one, meaning our match, and maybe some others later although I am skeptical, and I also don’t believe it. Of course, if you betray me i shall surely disembowel you and place your emptied out skull on my fireplace mantle. But I’m here to be a good teammate, so maybe I’ll just offer you a delicious Thanksgiving pie.
Kerry Kuroyama: (pause) …good.
Kuroyama extends his hand.
Hunter apprehensively looks at it for a moment… then accepts it.
Scott Hunter: This is great. This must be what Craig calls ‘friendship’. I thought it was some kind of foo foo hippie crap, but this is kinda cool.
A smile crosses Kerry’s face. Only it has no warmth. There’s a hint of malice glinting in his narrowing eyes.
Kerry Kuroyama: Best of luck then… “compadre”.
Kuroyama bows and extends his hand in the direction of the curtain, ceding the first entrance to his Vae Victis compatriot.
Kerry Kuroyama: After you, good sir.
Hunter exits. Kerry’s smile slowly breaks down into a sneer. His eye twitches.
His hands clench at the air in front of him, as he imagines throttling a certain someone’s neck.
Kerry Kuroyama: (seething under his breath) …soon as it rings… soon as that FUCKING bell rings… so help me God, I’m gonna… I’m gonna…
He trails off when he notices Simon is still lingering nearby, then clears his throat and recomposes himself.
Kerry Kuroyama: If we’re done here, Simon… would you be a gentlemen, and kindly get lost? I need to get mind centered.
Rolling his eyes, Tillier leaves Kerry to rebalance himself in the final few moments before his entrance.
Simon Tillier: Well, folks, you heard it here first! Moments from now, these two apparent “friends” within Vae Victis will go head to head in the ring! Let’s send it back to Nick and Richard to see how this unfolds!
We then cut to ringside.