CAPTAIN POWERBOMB AND THE FORKLIFT MAN SOLVE EVERYTHING
Both members of Eminence, the record-setting PRIME Tag Team champions, are wandering the corridors ahead of tonight’s main event, a contest that has implications for both members of the team. The match comes in the immediate wake of Lindsay Troy’s announcement that the tag team division will be effectively dissolved at Culture Shock. For Jared Sykes, it’s an opportunity to test his mettle against two of the best on the roster in Five Star champion Nate Colton, and Universal champion Rezin. For his partner Justine Calvin, the implications are more existential.
Neither of them are thinking about how their new team name probably confuses the shit out of Shawn Warstein.
Moreover, neither of them are saying much.
So, let’s introduce some people that might make them say things. They take the form of a powerbomb in the shape of a man, and a doofus in a topknot. That’s Sid Phillips and Joe Fontaine, respectfully. The Winds of Change are in their ring gear, and walk into frame as though they’re not actually expecting to run into the Eminence pair.
In fact, they nearly walk past them before Sid grabs hold of Joe’s shoulder.
Sid Phillips: Wait a sec.
Joe Fontaine: Yeah?
Sid turns his head towards Jared and Justine, and Joe has to follow his gaze before realizing that they literally just walked past their Culture Shock opponents.
Joe Fontaine: Oh, hey. Didn’t see you guys there. Big night?
The champions stop dead in their tracks. Jared closes his eyes and exhales a long, slow sigh. His is the expression who knows, despite no words having been exchanged between them, that his significant other is thinking about committing a double homicide for that remark.
Justine turns, her hands already balled into fists.
Justine Calvin: Hello, Joseph.
Jared Sykes: (whispered) Goddammit.
Yup. Big murders on the horizon.
Justine Calvin: You know, I’m actually glad you said something, because I’d been meaning to ask whether or you’ve decided if I’m a – what was it you said last show? Oh yeah. “Toxic hell banshee.” So which is it? Yes or no.
Joe Fontaine: Given the way you’re looking at me right now, I’m getting the vibe that it’s a yes.
Sid shakes his head, and purposefully puts himself just in front of Joe while talking to him.
Sid Phillips: I swear, Joe, you need to read the room before you start saying things. Jesus Christ.
Joe Fontaine: What? I was just making friendly banter.
Sid Phillips: Were not.
Joe Fontaine: I mean, just now, not after getting taken to that weird duck hell that Zeke interviewed us in. You know, in retrospect, I’m not sure that guy was a real doctor or lawyer.
Sid Phillips: You don’t fuckin’ say.
Justine nods slowly. Her hands have relaxed somewhat, but her arms are now folded across her chest. To the casual observer this might seem to indicate she’s moved on, but to those who know her well this is the posture for a different kind of fight.
Justine Calvin: Riiiiiight. Friendly banter. “Hey guys, pretty big deal that one of you is in the main event and the other gets to watch a week after they nuke the division.” I can buy that.
She takes a single step forward and peers around Sid’s massive frame. The grin she wears is much closer to Toxic Hell Banshee than Actual Human Woman.
Jared has finally turned around and opened his eyes. In a minute he’s going to wish he didn’t.
Justine Calvin: So, you bringing the whole family out again for Culture Shock?
Joe Fontaine: Hell no. Are you kidding? Just getting dad to Vegas was a nightmare. Guy’ll spend all day talking about that one time he tried to wrestle a guy in a gorilla suit in a hardcore match in Vegas, and you can only hear that story like fifty-six times before it starts getting old.
He shudders. The last thing he wants is to be regaled with the stories of how much of a pain in the ass it is to get thumbtacks out of a gorilla suit.
Sid Phillips: Mine might come. He doesn’t have much to do these days now that Luna’s out of school. You can’t miss him. He’s the guy close to his 50s still frosting his tips and wearing sunglasses indoors. Also, he’s definitely the sort of guy you’d hate at first sight.
Jared opens his mouth to speak, but he’s not fast enough.
Justine Calvin: Plus I know how much you hated losing in front of everyone at Ultraviolence. Imagine it’d be real hard to make ’em sit through it again.
Jared Sykes: Why…
Justine Calvin: What? He’s the one who brought it up last show in between something about lemonade and a duck. It’s funny the things people will tell you if you let them talk long enough, no matter how ridiculous the rest of what they say is.
The two share a glance. While the expression on Jared’s face is more sympathetic, trying to telepathically get his partner to ease up, Justine has already shifted into full-on New England troll mode. Imagine the most obnoxious Red Sox fan – or really any Red Sox fan. Now imagine they know what button to press.
Let’s fuckin’ go.
Justine Calvin: Probably easier to just have everyone watch from the couch. Or maybe not at all.
Joe Fontaine: Not exactly dissuading me from that “toxic hell banshee” assessment, Justine. But since you seem to be oh-so-confident that history will repeat, I’ll be happy to let them watch Sid and I wipe that banshee-like look off your face in a month.
Sid Phillips: Seriously, dude, did you both eat your Jerk Wheaties this morning?
Joe Fontaine: What? No. That’s gross. Who would eat Jerk Wheaties?
Sid shakes his head.
Sid Phillips: I mean, I’d ask what’s wrong, but I know what’s wrong. There’s not going to be… uh, this… soon.
He gestures back and forth between the two teams.
Sid Phillips: And it sucks, and it’s not fair. I only just got used to all of this, myself, what with the whole drawing tapestries in the paint of powerbombs thing I got going on. They just went and took that from all of us. So, Joe and I only got one more shot at taking Galadriel and, uh… okay, Jared, dude, I don’t know what you called your title belt, I’m just going to assume it’s called Rincewind or something.
Jared turns to Justine and mouths the name, “Rincewind?” To which she whispers back, “I’ll explain later.”
Sid Phillips: I know you’ve got a notion that this won’t go any differently than last time. Maybe. But after we, er… I powerbomb some punks from the multiverse into an unrecognizable mass of flesh and gelatin, such that they could only be recognized by dental records and DNA samples and maybe the tear-soaked eyes of their loved ones… sorry, I lost my point somewhere in the middle there. Uh. Hope we have a good rematch.
Joe Fontaine: …What?
Justine Calvin: Oh it’s not just a noti…
She trails off when a hand gently rests on her shoulder. She looks at it for a moment, all while contemplating what Jared might look like with only a thumb on his left hand.
Jared Sykes: Alright, I think Sid might have a point.
Jared Sykes: Yeah, we’re losing our division. This isn’t something any of us expected when we started this journey, and worse is that we don’t have any control over how it goes down. You guys are just getting started and now the rug’s being pulled out from underneath you. This is the first time she’s had a chance like this, and now that’s evaporating too. I’m…
Justine Calvin: (Under her breath) In the main event against the Five Star and Universal champions.
Jared sighs. It’s a long sigh, as if all of the air is leaving his body in a slow, steady stream.
Jared Sykes: Anyway… If everybody wants to turn this into a pissing contest, then fine. Y’all can drench the halls as far as I’m concerned.
He takes a deliberate step around Sid. Not far enough to pass him, but just enough that the big man no longer obstructs his view of Joe Fontaine.
Jared Sykes: And if you want to get upset because what happened at Ultraviolence was in front of the people you care about, then that’s on you and you alone, bud. I don’t know what that’s like. I genuinely can’t relate, because the people I care about don’t come out to these shows. Fuck, some of them aren’t even allowed to watch. So you can look at that like maybe they were let down, or you were embarrassed, or whatever you want to tell yourself. But the way I see it, Joey Malone, Jr., is that you also had a whole shitton of people by your side who understood exactly what it’s like to do this. You follow?
Joe smiles vaguely at Jared, listening to what he’s saying.
Joe Fontaine: Y’know, I still remember what you told me after that match. “Twenty years, and your family’s never come out to see you, so I’ve already got you beat there.” I know. Doesn’t mean it still didn’t hurt, but… I get it. I follow.
Joe steps out to stand side-by-side with Sid.
Joe Fontaine: You know, this company practically forgot that Sid and I were here from the moment we lost at UltraViolence. I spent all of that time in catering, stewing about it, trying to make sense out of things while the Love Company tried to war crime their way to the gold. Occasionally, they’d trot us out there so Sid can powerbomb an invisible man for everyone. And, you know, once there’s no tag division… well, Sid and I don’t have a single idea what’s gonna happen to us.
Sid Phillips: Seriously, not fair.
Joe Fontaine: I know, bro.
He pats Sid on his big, powerbombing bicep.
Joe Fontaine: Don’t get me wrong, I know you guys are the kings of this division. Maybe also of popsicles, too, not sure how you guys still feel about that. Win or lose, no one’s ever going to doubt that you’re the best team that’s ever been in PRIME. But you know what I want to do? Actually, no… what we’re going to do? We’re gonna etch our names on what’s left of the tag titles. It’s not UltraViolence any more. You’re in for a Culture Shock!
Sid slaps his hand against his forehead.
Sid Phillips: Jesus Christ.
Justine’s brow furrows, and her posture relaxes a little. She opens her mouth to speak, closes it, and then cocks her head to the side. It’s the same face a dog would make if you tried to teach it calculus.
Justine Calvin: I… Huh. You know what? I’m just going to let that one breathe.
Sid Phillips: Like a two-pack-a-day smoker on a jog.
He taps Joe on the shoulder.
Sid Phillips: Hey. Are we done here? I want to go to do the part where powerbombs happen.
Joe Fontaine: Yeah, sure. What? Was there a problem with something I said?
Sid Phillips: Many. We’ll talk about them after the match.
Sid takes his leave, dragging Joe with him as he walks.
Joe Fontaine (off-screen): Wait! I haven’t even delivered any cool catchphrases! Nooo!
And now we go elsewhere.