ALIAS TITLE TOURNAMENT: NED REFORM VS. DARIN ZION
Oh hey. It’s Vince Howard. Hi, Vince!
Vince Howard: The following contest is scheduled for one fall, and is a first-round match in the Alias Title Tournament! Introducing first…
“Happy Song” by Bring Me The Horizon begins playing throughout the arena, and it gets exactly the kind of reaction you’d expect. This is to say that the fans aren’t happy. Maybe they hate love.
Actually, yes. This is Florida we’re in tonight, and Florida for sure hates love.
Vince Howard: Hailing from Chicago, Illinois and weighing in at two-hundred and twenty-five pounds…
Nick Stuart: The crowd here showing some tough love to Zion.
Vince Howard: DARIIIIIIIIIIIIIN ZIIIIIIIIIIIIION!!!
Vince Howard: And his opponent…
The very familiar opening chords of Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” echo throughout the arena as the lights take on a purple hue and the fans begin to jeer in earnest.
Vince Howard: Hailing from Litchfield, Connecticut and weighing in tonight at two-hundred and twenty-seven pounds…
The piano transitions into a rock version of the classic – a modern rock version by Cole Rolland – as the man himself, Ned Reform, appears through the curtain. He’s dressed for action: purple and white singlet, white boots, but the arrogant smirk is missing. One hand is tucked behind his back as he scans the people, completely no-selling the rude gestures and boos.
But the grin isn’t the only thing that’s missing. TA Cole is nowhere to be found.
Vince Howard: He is… DOCTOR! NED! REEEEEEEEEFOOOOOOOORM!
Reform begins to walk to the ring, but tonight he seems somewhat dejected. There’s no waving, no smiling. Just one man walking alone down the aisle.
Nick Stuart: Ned Reform not looking like himself tonight, Richard.
Richard Parker: First of all, that’s Doctor Ned Reform. And of course he’s not looking like himself. It’s pretty well-known among the locker room that there have been issues with TA Cole lately. Plus, you know… Florida.
He hops onto the ring apron, gives his feet a good wipe or two, and then steps through the ropes and into the ring. He makes his way to the turnbuckle, bracing his hands on the top rope and leaning back to test its integrity. While he’s doing this, he catches sight of the hard cam and stares for a moment before looking away.
Oh look, they hate this guy, too.
In fact, it doesn’t take long before the crowd makes their truest intentions known.
YOU BOTH SUCK!
YOU BOTH SUCK!
Richard Parker: Well, Nick, it’s official – Florida hates both love and knowledge.
Jesus Christ, Richard. We get it.
The two men move towards the center of the ring, and Reform wastes no time in starting in on the offense. A snap dropkick to the knee sends Zion face-first to the mat, and before Real Love can recover Reform is already back to his feet driving stomp after stomp into his upper back.
Nick Stuart: Ned…
Richard Parker: Doctor!
Nick Stuart: …fine. Doctor Reform taking it straight to Darin Zion tonight, and… oh!
It doesn’t last very long, because the Sage On The Stage isn’t the only one with a wild hair across his ass tonight. In one fluid motion, Zion scoots back, gets to his feet, and then drives a running clothesline right into Reform’s sternum. Zion lunges into a mount position on the fallen doctor and begins raining down strikes onto his opponent.
Nick Stuart: Fire out of both men here in the early going, as Doctor Reform led the charge but Darin Zion was quick to answer.
Richard Parker: It’s the age-old battle of love versus wisdom.
Nick Stuart: I don’t think that’s a thing.
Richard Parker: It is in all my fanfiction.
Referee Jimmy Turnbull begins his admonishment, but doesn’t even get to finish the first sentence before Reform manages to buck Zion off, which is a really poor choice of words to use when talking about someone who’s nickname is “Real Love” and aligns himself with something called “The Love Convoy.” I’m sorry.
As the two men scramble to their feet, it’s Reform who gets there first, and those precious seconds are just enough time to launch himself at Zion and connect with a spinning heel kick. Once again, Darin Zion finds himself on the mat, this time a little more dazed than the last. As he starts to rise, his ascent is cut off by a sharp elbow drop to the back of his neck.
Nick Stuart: This isn’t the way I expected this match to go. There’s a lot of aggression coming out of both men here so far.
Richard Parker: It’s like the poster I used to have back in college: Love Hard, Study Harder.
Nick Stuart: Please never speak of this again.
Richard Parker: My roommate said the same thing right before he moved out halfway through the first semester.
Zion uses the ropes to pull himself up, and leans over the second one to catch his breath. He doesn’t get to keep it very long, as Ned Reform is on him, using him like a platform from which to pontificate. The Warrior Poet plants both feet on Zion’s shoulders and grabs hold of the top rope with both hands, forcing Zion’s neck and chest down onto the unforgiving ropes.
Once again, Jimmy Turnbull is there to admonish, however his count is interrupted by a rather passionate argument by the Socrates of Slam.
Nick Stuart: Smart move by Doctor Reform. That move might be illegal, but if Jimmy Turnbull can’t ever be allowed to count to five then Ned can milk this for as long as he wants.
Richard Parker: No one in this company is going to be able to outsmart Doctor Reform, Nick. That’s just the way it is. Just like no one in PRIME is going to be able to out-love Darin Zion.
Nick Stuart: That’s… umm…
Richard Parker: I KNOW WHAT I SAID!
Finally, mercifully, Turnbull is able to power through Reform’s filibustering, and the proper five-count ensues. He’s at four-and-a-half when Reform finally relents, hopping down off of Zion and putting both of his hands up in a placating gesture.
Turnbull gets close, perhaps a little too close for a referee, and begins giving a sermon of his own. It only stops when Reform’s eyes suddenly go wide.
No, Jimmy Turnbull didn’t witness what Darin Zion just did to get even with his adversary, but everyone else in the building sure did.
Nick Stuart: Zion with a questionable shot there, Richard.
Richard Parker: Right in the diploma. You hate to see it.
Reform staggers back and Zion uses the opening to connect with a pair of European uppercuts. A third one lands, and a snap suplex follows. Zion floats over, keeping Reform’s shoulders pressed to the mat, but is only able to secure a two-count before the good doctor can kick out.
There is no pause in Zion’s attack. Immediately after Reform gets out of the attempted pin, Zion already has both of the doctor’s feet hooked under his arms. He steps through, crosses one leg behind the other, and muscles Reform over onto his stomach.
Nick Stuart: Sharpshooter applied in the center of the ring, and Ned Reform…
Richard Parker: DOCTOR!
Nick Stuart: …has nowhere to go!
The Philosopher King struggles against the hold trying to break free, but Zion has the hold locked in tight. Zion leans back, trying to crank the hold in deeper, but Reform is able to get his hands underneath him. Through obvious pain he pushes himself up and begins crawling towards the ropes, dragging Zion along for the ride.
Nick Stuart: Reform trying to break free. He’s almost at the ropes, aaaaaaaaand… There!
The Pedagogue of Pain gets both hands around the bottom rope in clear view of Jimmy Turnbull. Fun fact about ol Jimmy Turnbuckles: he used to be the dedicated tag team referee, and if you know anything about PRIME’s tag division then you know it’s played host to a cavalcade of idiots over the last year. What this means is that Turnbull can not only take it, but he can dish it out.
Richard Parker: Oh, come on! This is the slowest count I have ever seen.
Nick Stuart: There is definitely going to be an uncomfortable conversation with the head referee in his future.
Turnbull’s five count is slow. Very slow. Many Mississippi’s are born, live, and die in the space between his count. Eventually, Darin Zion is forced to break the hold.
Reform crawls his way to the corner and uses the buckles to pull himself back to his feet. As he tries to recover, Zion charges in for a corner splash.
Nick Stuart: Ned…
Richard Parker: Doctor Reform. It’s Doctor Reform, Nick. Just say Doctor Reform. It’s like one extra syllable!
Nick Stuart: Doctor Reform dodges out of the way, and Darin Zion just ate a face full of turnbuckle.
The actual object. Not the referee who has that as his nickname. In this situation it’s important we clarify this, just to be safe.
Nick Stuart: Doctor Reform with his wits still about him…
Richard Parker: Well where else would they be?
Nick Stuart: A German suplex out of the corner!
Reform maintains the bridge, but is himself only able to get a count of two before Zion can kick out. The crowd, as they have so far during this match, has some thoughts about this.
WE HATE LEAR-NING!
WE HATE LEAR-NING!
This catches Reform’s attention, and his focus is momentarily drawn away from his opponent to the sheer, utter nonsense that every Floridian is letting fall out of their heads right now. The distraction gives Zion enough time to get to his feet.
Nick Stuart: Ratings Spike!!
Richard Parker: And Real Love just planted the good doctor!
Nick Stuart: There’s the cover!
Zion is beside himself, and Reform, well, he’s a little wobbly. His head is where his brain lives, and it’s never a good idea to bounce your brain house off the canvas. Or, in this case, have it driven there for you. Hey, maybe that’s why Zion has the steering wheel.
Nick Stuart: It wasn’t enough!
Richard Parker: But this one might be…
A second Ratings Spike connects, and this time Zion hooks both legs deep.
Nick Stuart: Zion with the cover…
Nick Stuart: He could advance!
DING DING DING
Zion rolls to his feet and his arm is raised in victory.
Vince Howard: The winner of this match, advancing in the Alias Title Tournament… DARIIIIIIIIIIIIIN ZIIIIIIIIIIIIION!!!
Somewhere, tiny hands with pink fingernails are furiously typing an error-filled barrage of congratulatory text messages. Maybe. Probably.
Nick Stuart: Darin Zion has taken this one here tonight, and is now one step closer to claming the Alias Title!
Richard Parker: Love conquers all, Nick. Love conquers all.