CECILWORTH FARTHINGTON/FLAMBERGE VS. JARED SYKES/HAYES HANLON
We return to ringside where the bell rings, and Vince Howard is standing in the middle of the ring.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen… The following contest, scheduled for one fall… is your MAIN EVENT OF THE EVENING!
The arena fades to darkness, and a single note rips through the arena. Deep, rumbling – guitars tuned so low that it crests on the bass register.
I’ll never be ready to meet a memory
With every rhythmic note the arena lights pulse white. Despite the scale of the event and his spot on the card, there is none of the big match spectacle that Jared’s entrances usually entail.
Vince Howard: Introducing first… from Boston, Massachusetts…
I’ve gone walkabout with the parasites in my head
The sound from the speakers is drowned out by the roar coming off the crowd as a lone figure steps onto the entryway. Tonight he’ll do the very thing he cautioned Hayes against and face down a larger force without backup.
Vince Howard: Weighing in tonight at two-hundred and two pounds…
Far too quiet
As I pick away at the surface the itch burns through my skin
There is no time spent engaging with any of the fans at ringside. His walk is done with purpose. Given everything that happened between him and Hayes recently, this is not somewhere that he wants to be. The sooner that the match can start, the sooner he can put it behind him.
Vince Howard: JAREEEEEEEEEEEEED SYYYYYYYYYKES!!!
When the dirt crushes my bones
And the worms call me their home
If I’m asked to start again
I can’t pretend I’m ready
I can’t pretend
I’VE – HAD – PLEN-TY
He arrives at ringside, quickly throwing back his hood and tossing his black sweatshirt aside before sliding in under the bottom rope and taking his position in the corner.
“WHEN MY BACK’S TO THE WAAAALLLLL!!!”
“Daggers” by We Came As Romans. The PRIMEview bursts into an array of stars and planets, exploding like supernovas. A wall of light at the top of the entry ramp reveals the silhouette of the first two-time PRIME Universal Champion of the ReVival era. The eGG Beater. Hammerin’ Hanlon. The Event Horizon.
Vince Howard: His tag team partner! From West Linn, Oregon, weighing in at two hundred and sixty-one pounds!
Hanlon bursts out from behind the light, heading for the ring. Hanlon looks relatively subdued, at least by his standards, as he marches to the ring with purpose.
Vince Howard: HAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYESSSSS!!!
Vince Howard: -HAAAAAAAANNNNNLLLLOOOOONNNNNNN!!!!!!!
Thunderstorms don’t hit as hard as “Daggers” as Hanlon hits the ring apron, immediately making his way to the turnbuckles and climbing up, timing a throat-cutting gesture with the chorus of his song.
“DRAW! THE! DAGGER!
CUT OUT THE PAIN! TO FIND THE POWER!”
Then onto the next turnbuckle to do it again.
“DRAW! THE! DAGGER!
CUT OUT THE PAIN!”
Hanlon drops off of the turnbuckles, and paces around the ring waiting for his opponents. Sykes tries to speak to him to get a game plan going for the match, but Hanlon’s either not listening or not paying attention.
He doesn’t have to wait long for those opponents, by the way.
Darkness once again envelopes Soldier Field.
Not for long, though. Soon, a single spotlight shines down on four men, standing back-to-back-to-back-to-back. Yes, they’re doing this. No, you cannot stop them.
As the beginning of I DON’T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME’s “Choke” hits, we can see that front and center of this bizarre formation is none other than Lord Cecilworth Farthington, the 5-Star Champion himself. The Financier. The leader of the Glue Factory, or (as we’ve come to call them) the Glueminati. Farthington isn’t striking a pose or anything, he’s just looking at his cell phone. As he does. He just has a fancy belt around his waist as he does it.
The camera rotates around to the left. Sid Phillips stands there in his classy suit. He sees the camera and he lowers his sunglasses to wink at it. You have now been powerbombed psychically, and I’m really very sorry about that.
The camera rotates further to the left, and there’s FLAMBERGE in all of his reptilian glory. The Intense Champion, whose title belt is firmly placed over his shoulder. The Neck Collector. Co-owner of PRIME’s longest winning streak at this time. His shoulders bob in tune with “Choke”. He’s probably having what passes for a good time, but don’t tell whatever’s in his head that.
We come around to FLAMBERGE’s right, and there’s Joe Fontaine in his garish sparkling green suit, and… yep. That’s a dab. That’s… that’s great, Joe. Really proud of you, man.
When the camera turns back around to Farthington, the lights come back on and the four men break their formation and start heading for the ring amid the boos of the crowd.
Vince Howard: Their opponents! Representing the Glueminati, at a total combined weight of three hundred and ninety-three pounds! THE INTENSE CHAMPION, FLAAAAAAAMBERRRRRRGGGGGEEEEEEE! AND THE FIVE-STAR CHAMPION, CECILWOOOOOOOORTH FAAAAAAAAARTHINGTOOOOOOOOOONNNN!!!
Richard Parker: There they are, Nick! Champion material if I’ve ever seen it!
Nick Stuart: Both of these men won their championship belts at Tropical Turmoil in June, and they still have a stranglehold over them nearly three months later.
Richard Parker: I hope you like the words “forever champs”, because that’s what these two are!
FLAMBERGE and Cecilworth exchange looks over the order of announcements, but shrug their shoulders and enter the ring. Joe and Sid only go as far as the ring apron, with the erstwhile Winds of Change staring daggers at Jared Sykes in particular.
As “Choke” fades, the champions remove their title belts from around their waists and shoulders, and hand them off to ringside attendants. It does, however, take a lot longer for Cecilworth to willfully hand off his cellphone. There’s stalling. A Lord and his cellphone aren’t easily parted, after all.
After an excruciating amount of time, longer than we’re really comfortable describing if we’re being honest, Cecilworth passes his phone off to the attendant as well.
With both teams in the ring, Jimmy Turnbull calls for the bell to ring.
Cecilworth and FLAMBERGE spend an inordinate amount of time trying to decide who starts the match. There is a game of rock-paper-scissors, you see. The two Glueboiz wear determined faces that they hadn’t, at any point, had for this match at all. Neither wish to lose this. Oh, sure, there’s a match about to happen and both of those guys are interested in face-punching the two of them to death, but let’s be real. This is about Cecilworth Farthington and FLAMBERGE. This one little competition will determine everything.
Nick Stuart: What are these two boneheads doing?
Richard Parker: Quiet! There must be a winner!
They shoot, and both have scissors. Both men are disgusted by this turn of events, judging from the expressions on their faces. Farthington clenches his jaw. FLAMBERGE looks a little more lizard-y than he already does. They try again, and are collectively bewildered when they both go for rock. Farthington throws his head up to the sky, a yell of rage at whatever sky mongrel is looking down on him. FLAMBERGE’s arms move as though they’re pulled and dropped by puppet strings. Neither man can believe it.
Richard Parker: This competition is really heating up!
Nick Stuart: (inarticulate sounds of disgust)
Sykes approaches the two of them, ready to get the match started on his side as the chosen legal man. FLAMBERGE and Farthington both hold up their hands to make him stop, asking him to wait a moment while they settle this clearly much more important thing. The two of them stare at one another intently, beads of sweat starting to form on their brows. This is it. This would settle it for sure. They shoot again.
Both land on paper.
Richard Parker: This! Is! Awe! Some! (clap, clap, clapclapclap)
Nick Stuart: STOP that.
Farthington stomps on the mat in sheer frustration and turns away, gripping the top rope as though doing anything else might result in terrible thoughts. Oh no, not the thoughts! Anything but the thoughts! Meanwhile, FLAMBERGE can only look up at the sky as though asking God (or whatever’s driving his brain) why he could not win against Cecilworth.
After a long pause, Farthington and FLAMBERGE turn to do this one more time.
It doesn’t happen, though, because Jared Sykes is ready to choose for them. He finally charges in and pelts both Farthington and FLAMBERGE with a double flying clothesline, sending both men falling to the mat!
Nick Stuart: Oh! Jared Sykes doesn’t want to wait!
Richard Parker: What are you doing!? You’re ruining the big competition!
Nick Stuart: What are you talking about!?
Sykes pulls Farthington up, choosing him as the de facto winner of the competition (much to the visible chagrin of FLAMBERGE on the outside), and belts him in their own corner with a few right hands. FLAMBERGE trips Sykes up on the outside before he can really take advantage, pulling him to the floor. This only earns him a hard fist to the face, before he’s thrown into the ring post by the feet of Joe and Sid.
Joe backs off while hiding behind Sid, as Sykes decides to re-enter the ring to deal with Farthington. Farthington has stumbled out to the center of the ring, somewhat dazed from getting face-punched more times than should be deemed polite. Sykes hits him with a bulldog, sending Farthington’s face into the mat. A pin leads to a quick two count, before Sykes grabs an arm and applies a top wristlock.
Farthington, being a submission specialist, is nonplussed by this. He rolls through and reverses the hold into his own top wristlock, then transitions right into a headlock. Then he releases and spins around to take Sykes down with a drop toe hold. He grabs the arm, looking for the Fujiwara armbar, but Sykes rolls through and gets to his feet first. He grabs a headlock of his own, so Farthington pushes him into the ropes and shoves him to the other side. Sykes bounces off the ropes and ducks Farthington’s clothesline, then grabs Farthington and whips him into the ropes as well. Drop down, leapfrog, and Sykes catches Farthington with an armdrag when he returns. And back into the top wristlock.
Farthington slaps the mat once, not tapping out but because this vexes him.
Nick Stuart: Sykes holding his own here against maybe the most lethal submissionist in all of PRIME.
Richard Parker: In PRIME history, even. Maybe even world history. I bet he went back in time and showed the Spanish Inquisition a thing or two about torture.
Nick Stuart: Stop it.
Farthington gets up again, but as he’s about to go for the counter, it’s Sykes who surprises him, taking him over with another armdrag that puts him close to the Glue side of things. Farthington pops up, but he’s merely standing there, annoyed by how that went. He visibly doesn’t really want to tag in FLAMBERGE, but he stands too close to the corner and FLAMBERGE casually tags himself into the match.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE tagging himself in to bail out Farthington, now…
Richard Parker: No, Farthington was clearly about to strangle Sykes to death and FLAMBERGE obviously wants that neck for himself.
The French Phenom enters the ring with the casual cool of a man with ridiculous confidence. A confidence that comes from riding an eleven match winning streak – currently tied for longest in the history of PRIME – under the guise of neck collecting. He steps right up to Sykes, going nose-to-nose with him. An attempt at a hard forearm to the face is ducked, and Sykes quickly takes advantage with a fireman’s carry takeover into the armbar. FLAMBERGE quickly gets to his feet. A go-behind into a hammerlock gets FLAMBERGE a headlock of his own, but Sykes quickly slips out and latches in his own hammerlock.
FLAMBERGE backs Sykes into a corner, but the corner he backs him into is the Glute Factory’s corner. Which is to say, where Hayes Hanlon waits.
Hanlon smiles as he blind tags himself into the match.
Nick Stuart: Hanlon’s in!
Richard Parker: Abort! Abort! Wait, what’s French for abort!?
FLAMBERGE can’t exactly abort. Sykes has him thoroughly restrained with the hammerlock, and that allows ‘ol Hammerin’ Hanlon to grab hold of the French Phenom in a headlock and pull him to the center of the ring. Hanlon isn’t exactly known for his technical aptitude in comparison to the other three men in this match, but he manages to transition from the headlock to a leg trip. FLAMBERGE falls onto his stomach and gets up to see Hanlon winding up a big right hand. The right hand is telegraphed enough that FLAMBERGE is able to avoid it, backing away quickly with a wide-eyed look on his face.
This allows Cecilworth to reach over and tag himself into the match. I mean, he tags him by kinda poking him on the shoulder, and that counts because referee Jimmy Turnbull is nice like that.
FLAMBERGE shoots Cecilworth a look, but nods in understanding and steps out of the ring.
There’s an electricity in the crowd as the former two-time Universal champion and the current 5-Star champion stare each other down. So much buzzing.
Nick Stuart: Cecilworth Farthington and Hayes Hanlon are staring each other down!
After a long moment of staring, both men back off and begin circling each other. After a full revolution between them, the two lock up. It doesn’t take a lot of jockeying before Hanlon is able to push Farthington into the neutral corner. Hanlon threatens a big punch, which Farthington flinches away from, but Hanlon gives him a little slap on the chest and invites Farthington to try again.
Nick Stuart: Hanlon’s remarkably restrained here compared to usual, but that cockiness is still there.
Richard Parker: He can’t afford to make a mistake against Cecilworth! That’s a man that snaps limbs like dried spaghetti, and then stirs tendons into a boiling pot with a dash of salt! And then he pours tomato sauce of pain over the top of all that! Cook, serve, delicious!
Wow. What the fuck, Richard?
Richard Parker: …That analogy got away from me in a hurry.
Nick Stuart: Jesus Christ.
Let’s move away from that and never speak of it again.
Hanlon and Farthington lock up again. Farthington goes behind and into a hammerlock, but Hanlon quickly grabs him in a headlock with his other arm to force a stalemate. Farthington gives up the hammerlock in order to grab the arm holding his head. He slips out, turning it into a top wristlock. Hanlon grimaces, but grits his teeth and keeps Farthington from forcing him to the canvas even when Farthington puts his leg behind Hanlon’s for more leverage. Eventually, Farthington realizes that this plan isn’t working out, so he abandons the wristlock and steps around Hanlon’s back until he can grab another side headlock.
Hanlon calmly pushes Farthington into the ropes, whereupon Sykes grabs another blind tag.
When Farthington releases the hold since they’re in the ropes and Jimmy Turnbull is doing this really annoying thing where he yells numbers into his ear, Hanlon looks up at Sykes with a murky expression. He’s clearly unhappy about the tag.
Nick Stuart: A little dissention in the ranks of the, uh…
Nick can be heard shuffling some papers.
Nick Stuart: …Dump Trucks? Why are they called the Dump Trucks?
Richard Parker: Because they both have thangs that you back up, and sometimes they have huge loads that they have to dump out.
Nick Stuart: I don’t follow.
Richard Parker: Theys gots amazing butts.
Nick Stuart: Oh.
Sykes hops into the ring. He and Farthington look to lock up again, but Sykes catches him in a go-behind into a waistlock. He lifts Farthington up and drops him to the ground on his stomach, floating over into a headlock. Farthington slips out and transitions right into a hammerlock, and then tries to grab the other arm for a submission. Instead, Sykes slips out of the hammerlock and turns the situation into a fireman’s carry takeover. Farthington gets caught in another headlock, and has to stand up. When he does, he pushes Sykes into the ropes, only to catch a dropkick that sends Farthington scuttling out to the outside! FLAMBERGE immediately enters the ring, but he takes a dropkick as well that sends him to the outside, as well!
Sykes sees a golden opportunity, and runs into the ropes for the suicide dive!
He doesn’t make it.
While everyone’s eyes are on Sykes’ destination, no one sees Joe Fontaine grabbing at Sykes’ boot. Sykes stumbles, and all of his momentum is stopped, though he manages to stay on his feet.
Nick Stuart: Oh, come on! Jimmy, get those two dorks out of there!
Fontaine ducks under the ring apron, hoping that no one sees him there. But someone does. His name is Hayes Hanlon. Hanlon drops off of the ring apron, and marches towards Fontaine. Fontaine scurries away. Bravely. Anyone who thinks he’s screaming like a little girl at the sight of an angry mustache with a human being attached to it is clearly insane.
He reaches the ramp where Sid is waiting, and Hanlon only stops to reach under the ring apron and pull out a steel chair. The eyes of the erstwhile Winds of Change go wide when Hanlon continues marching towards the two of them. Joe Fontaine turns and takes off in a dead sprint to the back, and Hanlon chases after him. Sid, bewildered, barely dodges an errant swing from Hanlon before he follows after him.
Nick Stuart: Hayes Hanlon is taking matters into his own hands, and he’s chasing Joe Fontaine and Sid Phillips out of the ringside area!
Richard Parker: That’s not smart!
In the ring, Sykes is confused on what’s just transpired. His tag team partner chases Joe and Sid all the way to the backstage area, and remains in pursuit even afterwards they’re gone. He’s all alone.
Jared Sykes has thrived as a tag team specialist in PRIME. Despite the end of the PRIME tag division, he remains half of the PRIME tag team champions. But his normal tag team partner isn’t in his corner tonight. At the moment, no one is.
Farthington jumps back up onto the apron, but Sykes meets him with a running elbow that knocks him off and into FLAMBERGE on the floor. This time, Sykes grasps the top rope and slingshots over the top rope and into both of the Glueboiz on the floor!
Nick Stuart: Sykes with a plancha out to the floor!
Richard Parker: Oh no! Get it together, Cecilworth! FLAMBERGE! You got this!
Nick Stuart: He doesn’t need encouragement!
Sykes throws Farthington back into the ring. He quickly goes for the pin, but it only gets two as Farthington pushes Sykes off of him. Sykes grabs Farthington by the head, then spins him around and drops him with the hangman’s neckbreaker. Another cover is followed by another two count.
FLAMBERGE jumps up onto the apron to return to the Glue corner. When Sykes grabs Farthington and sends him into the ropes, FLAMBERGE blind tags himself into the match. Farthington stops himself on the ropes before he can rebound, but Sykes feels FLAMBERGE coming from behind him and pops him with a no-look back elbow. It’s probably the lizard smell, TBH.
Farthington charges on Sykes thanks to the momentary distraction, but Sykes catches him with a back body drop that sends the Financier into Le Protagoniste, wiping both of them out!
Richard Parker: Oh no!
Nick Stuart: Sykes is holding his own against the 5-Star and Intense Champions! But how long can he do it when Hayes Hanlon isn’t there to make the tag!?
Sykes knows that FLAMBERGE is the legal man now, judging from the fact that he pulls the Strasbourg native up to his feet by his hair. He grabs FLAMBERGE’s arms, setting up for the Angel Halo, but FLAMBERGE elbows his way out of it. Then he whips Sykes into the ropes and goes for a big hip toss, but Sykes twists in the air and lands on his feet in front of FLAMBERGE. A kick in the gut. A snap suplex. Sykes rolls through and then lands a sliding elbow strike on FLAMBERGE, falling down into the cover. It only gets two, though.
Farthington’s back in the Glue corner, more than a little dazed from being backdropped into his partner. He watches as Sykes pulls FLAMBERGE to his feet, looking to put things away with the Omega 13. He has to. It’s the only way he can survive the situation he finds himself in.
But FLAMBERGE slips out, and then hits him with an overhead kick that would’ve made Pelé himself proud. It’s an almost uncharacteristic move from FLAMBERGE, but it’s effective in knocking Sykes down. The Neck Collector moves in to collect what is rightfully his, but Sykes grabs him by the front of his trunks and yanks him into the corner.
There’s a problem.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE in the corner, and Farthington just tagged himself in!
Farthington drops off of the apron before Sykes can see him, so that when Sykes gets up and goes to collect FLAMBERGE from the corner, he doesn’t see the Financier. Sykes grabs FLAMBERGE, looking for another neckbreaker on the Neck Collector. Which really spoils the market value of the neck, it should be noted. Really questionable on why we let a neckbreaker specialist out here with a guy who really cares about collecting necks. Super questionable.
Anyway, Farthington clips Sykes’ knee from behind.
Nick Stuart: Farthington cuts Sykes low!
Richard Parker: That wasn’t going to last forever. That’s the Glueminati! Cecilworth Farthington and FLAMBERGE! Even if Jared Sykes cloned himself with some kind of shadow clone jutsu and learned the Rasengan, he would still fall short of this two-man neck murder show.
Nick Stuart: …What the hell are you talking about?
Richard Parker: I don’t know. It’s like the spirit of anime possessed me for a moment. Have you seen the promotional art for this match? It’s wild.
Farthington aims several stomps down on Sykes’ knee, before leaving his foot jammed in the crook of the knee. He reached down and grabbed Sykes’ foot, and wrenched the knee. Sykes yells in agony, because that’s naturally what you do when an ornery Englishman tries to rip your leg off at the knee. When Sykes tries to reach up to grab at Farthington, Farthington instead grabs Sykes’ arm by the wrist. Placing his other foot on Sykes’, Farthington starts to wrench on Sykes’ wrist and fingers with his hands instead.
There is so much screaming, you guys.
Nick Stuart: Cecilworth has a submission on Sykes!
Richard Parker: It’s a bit hard to describe!
I literally just described it, though…
Fortunately for him, Sykes is just close enough to the ropes that he’s able to scooch his butt over to grab hold of them and never let go.
FLAMBERGE casually steps into the ring as Turnbull administers the five count to make Farthington break, and then delivers a leaping knee drop on Sykes’ outstretched arm grabbing the ropes.
Jared Sykes has a known history of issues with his right shoulder, dating back to his time in Sin City Championship Wrestling. FLAMBERGE’s leaping knee targeted that same arm, and Jared Sykes was in so much agony that he let go of the ropes immediately.
FLAMBERGE rolls under the bottom rope, smirking to the crowd. He holds his arms out and gyrates his hips a little, proud that he’d delivered more pain to Sykes than Farthington could. For his part, Farthington dutifully lets go of the submission on Sykes when Turnbull’s count gets to four, but the damage has been done.
Nick Stuart: This is bad.
Richard Parker: You couldn’t have understated this any more than you just did. “This is bad”? Try apocalyptic. This is Ragnarok for Sykes. Armageddon. The two most unstoppable, unbeatable men in all of PRIME, neither of them really keen on this whole human empathy thing, and you gotta fight them alone? Bringing a knife to a bazooka fight would be a fairer fight than this.
Farthington can see that Sykes’ shoulder is giving him the most grief. He can also see that FLAMBERGE would like the tag. So, Farthington reaches over and extends one index finger. FLAMBERGE pokes that index finger with his own, and that’s a tag, baby!
Nick Stuart: This is also ridiculous.
Richard Parker: Look, even I’ll admit that they’re weirdos. But dangerous weirdos. They’re weirdos you don’t want to meet in a dark alley in Chicago on a late Saturday night when you’re drunk and maybe a little high after a night on the town with all of your mates and just looking for a quick way back to your hotel room without all of the hassle and hustle and bustle of taking the long way around.
Nick Stuart: What?
Richard Parker: They got the pro wrestling equivalent of knives, bro.
FLAMBERGE picks up Sykes, and puts him in a standing armbar. The standing part doesn’t last, because the French Phenom takes the opportunity to transition into a leg trip. He mounts Sykes, keeping the right arm locked in the submission. Sykes is not exactly in a good spot right now, but FLAMBERGE makes it worse by letting Farthington reach over and poke him in the shoulder for the tag.
Nick Stuart: Strange tags here from the Glueminati tonight.
Richard Parker: Slapping hands is just rude. It’s all about gentle finger touching, now!
Nick Stuart: Are you okay? Do you need help? You’re acting a bit weird.
Richard Parker: I am a normal amount of okay.
No, he isn’t.
Farthington enters the ring and grabs a leg, placing it in a half crab. He makes the half crab ten times worse by jamming his foot into the crook of Sykes’ knee. FLAMBERGE lets go of the armbar and exits the ring, then he walks around the post so that he and Farthington can tag again. Farthington transitions into a Fujiwara armbar, allowing FLAMBERGE the room to retake Sykes’ knee and lay in a heel hook.
After Turnbull administers the five count to make Farthington release the hold and get back to his corner, Farthington breaks at four and rolls under the bottom rope. FLAMBERGE keeps the heel hook locked in until Farthington tags himself right back in. Then FLAMBERGE transitions into a half crab, and Farthington grabs the other half of the crab. They hold this two-man International Crab until Jimmy Turnbull nearly reaches another five count, and then FLAMBERGE leaves the ring.
Did I mention the screaming? Because there is a fair amount of that. Jared is having a bad time over here.
Richard Parker: These two men are like clockwork, Nick!
Nick Stuart: They’re really risking disqualification if they keep doing this.
Finally, Farthington turns Sykes over, perhaps looking for something more dangerous than a simple half crab. Sykes, out of desperation, draws Farthington into him before shoving him back with both feet.
Sykes gets up quickly and meets Farthington with a forearm. A second one staggers Farthington back into the ropes. A third one keeps him there.
Sykes whips him into the ropes, but as he turns to do this, FLAMBERGE sneaks in a blind tag on Farthington before he’s launched. Farthington reverses to send Sykes into the ropes. When he returns, Farthington launches Sykes into the air behind him, and…
That sound is FLAMBERGE leaping up and smashing a descending Sykes in the face with a high knee. Sykes hits the ground like a broken doll.
Richard Parker: That’s it, he’s dead.
FLAMBERGE slides into a cover.
Jared Sykes is a survivor, and we aren’t just talking about his victory in last year’s Tag Team Survivor. He’s survived Paxton Ray. He’s survived the Love Convoy. No matter what he’d say, Ivan Stanislav could not break him. That knee might have ended the nights of so many other people, but not Jared Sykes. Not yet.
As Farthington exits the ring, FLAMBERGE starts dropping hard 12-to-6 elbows onto the top of Sykes’ head. It’s a thunderstorm. A deluge. The elbows just don’t stop coming and they don’t stop coming and they don’t stop coming and they don’t stop coming and they don’t stop coming…
Nick Stuart: This is starting to get uncomfortable to watch.
…and they don’t stop coming…
Richard Parker: I’m having a great time! Want some popcorn?
…and they don’t stop coming…
Nick Stuart: I… when the hell did you get popcorn!?
…and they don’t stop coming…
Richard Parker: Secret.
…and they don’t stop coming…
Oh, wait, no. They did stop coming. Finally. Of course, FLAMBERGE had beaten Sykes with elbows badly enough that a cut has opened up around his hairline and it’s starting to pour, but that’s a small price to pay to keep us from saying “and they don’t stop coming” that many more times.
There’s activity, as fans stand up and look off to the entryway.
It’s Joe Fontaine and Sid Phillips, returning from the back after being chased off by Hayes Hanlon earlier. Sid is keeping his head on a swivel, keeping an eye out for Hanlon to show up at any moment with whatever furniture he might’ve picked up on his way. Joe Fontaine? He’s in the middle of a Fargo strut, all the way down to the ring.
Nick Stuart: What are they doing back here!? Where’s Hayes Hanlon!?
Richard Parker: They gave him the slip!
And so, Sykes’ situation is that much worse. FLAMBERGE pushes Sykes away and stands up, and Sykes is on his hands and knees in the center of the ring. He’d be smiling if there’s any human left in the lizard brain, but instead, he decides to tag (poke?) Cecilworth back into the match.
Cecilworth? He’s all smiles. Everything’s lovely right now. There’s a spring in his step as he deliberately puts himself in the Glute Factory corner, visually reminding Sykes that there is no one for him to tag. Then, as Sykes gets to his knees, Cecilworth surges forth and…
…hits him with the PK.
Nick Stuart: Penalty Kick from Farthington!
Farthington doesn’t go straight for the cover.
Instead, he takes his time to walk right back to the Glute Factory corner, all smiles. Jared Sykes is currently a type of gelatinous substance that has an armor class of 6, and it wouldn’t take much to do that much more damage to him.
Farthington rolls the dice… and it’s a natural 1.
Richard Parker: Uh oh.
Sykes catches Farthington’s boot just as it makes contact, blunting the impact. Farthington’s eyes go wide as Sykes rises from the dead, forcing him to hop up and down on one foot. Farthington only has a scant second to recognize the situation before Sykes reels him in and obliterates him with a lariat!
Nick Stuart: LARIAT BY SYKES!
Farthington’s turned topsy-turvy by the lariat, landing on his shoulders and rolling back onto his stomach. FLAMBERGE enters the ring, and then he immediately exits the ring when Sykes sidesteps him and throws him out to the floor by the feet of Fontaine and Phillips.
Jared Sykes’ shoulder is killing him. He’s moving with a small limp from the leg work done on him, too. A less stubborn man would have given up. But no one in PRIME is more stubborn than the Dragonslayer. If you’re here to tell him to give up, then get the fuck out of his way or get in a grave. Your choice.
So when he sees FLAMBERGE being helped up by Joe and Sid, he runs at the ropes and hurls himself through the ropes and into all three of them with a tope suicida!
Nick Stuart: SYKES WIPES OUT THE GLUEMINATI!
Richard Parker: Impossible!
Sykes is, miraculously, the first one on his feet. He grabs Sid by the head and manages to throw him into the steel stairs…
…then when Joe Fontaine recovers and swings a right hand (risking disqualification for the Glueboiz, the idiot), Sykes ducks it and picks him up in a back suplex position. Then he just throws Fontaine into a recovering Phillips, taking both of them down.
Sykes jumps up onto the apron, and sees FLAMBERGE recovering, so he runs along the apron and kicks him as hard as he can with his own Penalty Kick.
And down goes the Intense Champion.
Farthington is up, and he charges at Sykes. But Sykes shoots his boot through the top and middle ropes and smashes the Financier in the face, knocking him back. Then Sykes steps through the ropes, keeping his foot on the bottom rope, so that when he steps through, he’s able to springboard into Farthington with a cutter!
Nick Stuart: SYKES WITH A CUTTER!
Knowing that he needs to end this one right now, Sykes immediately pounces on Farthington for the cover.
Unfortunately for Sykes, a mere cutter isn’t enough to put down Cecilworth.
Sykes is bloodied. He knows he doesn’t have a lot of time left before the numbers and his own blood loss will be too difficult to overcome. He knows that Hanlon’s disappearance has made this match infinitely more difficult to win. He knows that if he doesn’t put away Cecilworth right here and now, this match will slip away.
Yet he has to keep trying.
He pulls Cecilworth up, tucking his head under his arm and grabbing his leg, as though he’s getting ready to put him up in the torture rack. Chicago would like that, I’m sure. But no, that’s not the intention. With a sudden rotation of his body, he sends Cecilworth straight to hell. Head first, of course.
Nick Stuart: LIGHTNING SPIRAL!
Richard Parker: OH NO!
Sykes makes another cover.
The French Phenom breaks up the pin, and despite being the illegal man, he’s pounding on Sykes with his elbows once again. Finally, he picks up Sykes, kicking him in the gut before going for the Axe Kick.
The missed kick puts FLAMBERGE off-balance, and Sykes takes the chance to shove the Intense champion into the ropes before nailing him with a flying knee that sends him through the ropes and onto the apron! Sykes turns his attention back to Farthington, who is so dazed from the cutter and the Lightning Spiral that he can’t even get to his feet right away.
Sykes knows he needs a killshot to put down the undefeated Farthington. He needs the Omega 13. But when he hooks Farthington up for the move, Farthington slips out. Actually, no. He doesn’t just slip out. He grabs Sykes’ wrist and then aims a Pelé kick directly into the upper arm.
Sykes goes down yelling. Because that was, once again, the right arm.
Nick Stuart: VICIOUS kick from Farthington to Sykes’ injured arm!
Sykes staggers away clutching his arm. He staggers right into FLAMBERGE standing on the apron, and FLAMBERGE has someone special for Jared Sykes. Her name is MARIE ANTOINETTE and she’s got her grips on Sykes in the ropes!
Nick Stuart: OH, COME ON!
Richard Parker: FLAMBERGE wants that neck for his mantle!
Nick Stuart: He’s in the ropes, and FLAMBERGE isn’t even the legal man!
FLAMBERGE cranks on the guillotine choke in the ropes, almost sliding into the ring while pulling Sykes through the ropes as he does. When referee Jimmy Turnbull’s count nearly reaches five, FLAMBERGE releasing the hold sends Sykes out to the floor.
But as this happens, the crowd’s murmurs turn to cheers.
And that’s ridiculous, considering what just happened. So, what could be happening right now, hm? Did someone in the crowd find a beach ball? No… no, what might be happening is that someone’s arriving at ringside.
Several sets of human eyes (plus one set of lizard eyes) turn their attention to the entryway at the sudden crowd noise.
Nick Stuart: HAYES HANLON IS HERE!
The Event Horizon comes marching down to ringside, holding his head. Whatever happened to him in the back has clearly affected him as he storms down ringside. Joe and Sid, wisely, clear the hell out of his way, with Joe scurrying to the clear other side of the ring and Sid following him in… considerably less of a scurrying motion.
Hanlon makes it to the ringside area, and marches over to his team’s corner. His mustache billows with anger as he climbs up and yells at Sykes to come over and make the tag.
Richard Parker: He’s so fresh that he’s unripened! Don’t let him make that tag!
Cecilworth rolls out to the ring apron, and see Sykes trying to get up off of the ground, putting a hand on the apron to steady himself. Cecilworth tries very hard to hide his smirk before he takes two steps forward and leaps off with a double stomp straight to Sykes’ arm.
Nick Stuart: GOOD GOD!
Sykes screams in pain, hold his arm close to his body. He finds it difficult to resist when Cecilworth rolls him into the ring and makes a cover.
Somehow, Sykes is able to roll his other shoulder off of the mat, though he’s in agony right now. Farthington grabs hold of Sykes’ injured wing and drags him over to the Sticky Corner, where FLAMBERGE can poke him in the shoulder for the tag.
Business as usual for the Glueboiz, even with an angry mustache staring daggers at them from the other side of the ring.
FLAMBERGE enters, and while Farthington keeps Sykes from getting away to make that pesky tag, FLAMBERGE kicks him in the gut. Once Farthington clears out of the ring, FLAMBERGE pulls Sykes into the ring. A judo hip toss, straight into a hard kick to the shoulder.
Nick Stuart: Sykes needs to make that tag!
Hanlon is leading a cheer from the crowd, raising his arms up and down. He wants the tag. He needs the tag. The fate of this entire match rides on the broken shoulders of the Dragonslayer reaching his corner.
God help them.
FLAMBERGE gives Hanlon a little wave, and then he kicks Sykes again.
Waves of pain crash into the shoulder of Jared Sykes. Hanlon puts one leg through the ropes, threatening to get in right now, but referee Turnbull immediately steps in front of him to warn him against doing it.
FLAMBERGE sees this, shrugs his shoulders, and then kicks Sykes one more time.
Nick Stuart: How much more can Sykes take here!? He’s still bleeding from FLAMBERGE’s elbows, and he’s down to one arm thanks to Farthington!
Richard Parker: It’s only a matter of time. Ain’t no way he’s making it to his corner with these two surgeons in the ring operating.
FLAMBERGE helpfully pulls Sykes up, claiming wrist control on Sykes’ bad arm as he does. Sykes chooses this moment to fight back, pelting the Neck Collector in… well, the side of his neck. After hitting him with three elbows, Sykes tries to pull free, reaching behind him towards Hanlon in a desperate bid to tag the former Universal champion into the match.
Instead, FLAMBERGE yanks on Sykes’ right arm. This makes him yelp and puts him in prime position…
…for MARIE ANTOINETTE.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE HAS SYKES IN THE GUILLOTINE! THIS MIGHT BE OVER!
Richard Parker: That neck is getting collected right now, Nick!
Sykes tries to fight it off by punching at FLAMBERGE’s side, but he has no power. He’s fading fast. There’s been a great number of men that have fallen to the Marie Antoinette. So many necks collected. So many would be challengers to the throne of the Lizard King of PRIME. Would Jared Sykes simply be another neck on the mantle?
Well, we’re not going to find out yet.
Hayes Hanlon is in the ring, and FLAMBERGE’s reaction to this is to bail on the Marie Antoinette entirely. He drops out of the body scissors and releases Sykes’ head, allowing the Dragonslayer to crumple onto the mat and breathe.
Nick Stuart: Hanlon makes FLAMBERGE break the hold!
Richard Parker: He really lost a golden opportunity at a pristine neck there!
There’s a brief staredown between the French Phenom and the Event Horizon. During this time, with the referee trying to get Hanlon out of the ring, Farthington enters the ring to pitch Sykes out of the ring again.
And, well, he lands right by the feet of Sid Phillips.
Joe pops up on the apron right in plain view of the referee to argue about the weather or whatever, and Sid sees a very golden opportunity when the referee started yelling at him to get off the apron. He picks up Sykes in a powerbomb, and then powerbombs him back-first onto the apron.
Nick Stuart: OH, COME ON!
Richard Parker: Wow. He bounced.
Rolling Sykes back into the ring, Sid walks away content that he achieved his powerbomb quota for the cycle. He definitely cut it close, let me tell you. Sykes, by the way, is in a lot of pain. His right shoulder took a lot of that powerbomb. Sid helpfully rolls him back into the ring and walks away as though he did nothing wrong, such that when Jimmy is finally able to restore order, all he sees is Jared writhing in pain on the canvas.
FLAMBERGE quickly rolls into the cover.
Hanlon was halfway through the ropes when Jared miraculously, though weakly, kicks out.
Nick Stuart: How the hell did Sykes kick out of that!?
The expression on FLAMBERGE’s face never changes. Instead, he walks over to Farthington and boops him on the nose for the tag. Farthington has a murky expression on his face for the gesture, but ignores it because there’s work to be done. Sticky work. It makes all of the arrows and the graphs go up, and that’s always a good thing.
Farthington’s all smiles as he draws Sykes into a standing headscissors. The Dragonslayer is so out of it at this point that he falls to his knees, which denies Farthington the leverage he needs for the piledriver. Farthington compels Sykes to get back to his feet so he can put him in the ground properly by smashing him in the back with forearms.
Eventually, Sykes does get to his feet. Farthington would really wish he hadn’t. When he lifts Sykes up for the piledriver, Sykes suddenly pulls his head from Farthington’s legs, and flips up until he lands on his feet right in front of Farthington. The 5-Star Champion is so bewildered that this is how Sykes’ physics works that he’s blasted into fuck by a heavy elbow strike that sends him hurling back towards the Glue corner. Sykes puts so much into it that he’s left lying on the ground afterwards, but Farthington is rocked.
Nick Stuart: Sykes… I don’t know where he’s getting this from!
Richard Parker: He made a deal with the devil! With Satan himself! With at least 14 of the 72 demons of the Ars Goetia!
Nick Stuart: I doubt that.
Richard Parker: Then explain the Bonafides and the Troy Boys.
Nick Stuart: …No.
Unfortunately, Farthington’s rocked into the corner, so FLAMBERGE quickly takes the tag (poke?). He enters the ring to cut Sykes off from making the tag, grabbing at Sykes’ foot as he crawls on the ground. Sykes crawls desperately towards Hanlon’s outstretched hand, who is encouraging the crowd to get into it by slapping the turnbuckle pad repeatedly.
Sykes finally gets his free leg under him, and then twists around for an enzuigiri to the side of FLAMBERGE’s head!
FLAMBERGE staggers, not quite knocked down from the blow, but he’s stunned enough that Sykes could make a leap for Hanlon’s outstretched hand.
A lot of things happen at once.
First, Farthington gets in the ring. This immediately gets the attention of referee Jimmy Turnbull, blinding him to what would’ve been a legal tag… if it’d happened. Instead, Joe Fontaine (really earning his stripes as a professional weasel tonight) grabs hold of Hanlon’s ankles in an effort to pull him off of the ring apron. It’s an effort that doesn’t go anywhere for him, since Hayes is so strong and his badonkadonk is even stronger. It does, however, have the effect of earning Hanlon’s undivided attention.
Nick Stuart: No! There’s no tag! Hanlon’s distracted by Fontaine!
Hanlon pushes Fontaine off of him with a foot, and then drops off of the apron. You could almost see smoke billowing from under his mustache, as though tiny little Dusks were operating somewhere deep inside his skull. Fontaine certainly could, because he’s backing away as though he has the fear of God in him.
Richard Parker: Imma laugh if he chases Fontaine all the way to the back again, not gonna lie.
Fortunately, Hanlon realizes that he’s in a “fool me once” scenario and doesn’t take the “shame on me” scenario that would’ve followed. He hops back up on the apron after chasing Fontaine around the corner, and shouts at Sykes to make a tag already.
Meanwhile, FLAMBERGE recovers from the enzuigiri long enough to pull Sykes by his feet back to the center of the ring, towards the Glue corner. He waits for Sykes to try to get up. The axe kick that follows has an air of finality to it. An exclamation point. The end. FLAMBERGE goes for the cover.
THRE-FOOT ON THE ROPES.
FLAMBERGE stares at Sykes’ foot in bewilderment. The gears in his head were replaced by lizards about a year ago, so you’ll have to forgive him for not quite realizing the problem of pulling Sykes into the Glue corner. Farthington tags himself in with another poke, and both he and FLAMBERGE work together for corporate glue synergy! They pull Sykes to his feet and, together, attempted to drop him with a double back suplex.
There’s a problem, though.
Sykes flips over the two of them and lands on his feet behind them. The Glueminati chaps exchange one look with each other, and realize that their quarry has escaped. So they turn.
And Sykes, bad shoulder and all, has one last burst of adrenaline left. FLAMBERGE goes for a roundhouse kick. It’s ducked by Sykes, who catches Farthington with an elbow to the gut to double him over. As FLAMBERGE recovers from the whiff, Sykes throws Farthington into him as though he was making the Financier involuntarily spear his own tag team partner. Both Glueminati members go down.
Joe Fontaine jumps up onto the apron. Sykes has something for him, too. It’s a big palm strike – well, more like a slap – that sends Fontaine flying off of the apron and into the arms of Sid Phillips, sending both of them to the ground.
Fans erupt. Hanlon leads them on in cheering for Sykes as he makes the long crawl towards his team’s corner.
Richard Parker: No!
Nick Stuart: JARED SYKES HAS CLEARED THE WAY! HE JUST NEEDS TO GET TO HANLON!
It feels like an eternity away, but Jared Sykes – one half of the most vaunted tag team to have ever walked PRIME’s halls – has been here plenty of times before. It’s a different partner, sure, but it still works out the same.
And then, finally…
Nick Stuart: HANLON IS IN!
Richard Parker: Oh no! Get out of there, Cecilworth!
Both FLAMBERGE and Farthington get up. They’re exhausted. They’d spent so much of this match beating down Sykes that even two men as dangerous as they are aren’t sure what to do about a fresh-as-daisies Hayes Hanlon.
There’s a tension in the air as Hanlon decides which one of the Glueminati he’s going to beat down first. Farthington and FLAMBERGE cautiously rise to their feet, neither wishing to make the first move and catch the Event Horizon’s hands.
There’s a brief, shocked silence.
Hayes Hanlon pops up after hitting one of his most devastating moves, and stares down with a murky-at-best expression on his face at his victim.
Confusion is in the air, but everything goes straight to hell the moment the crowd realizes what just happened.
Nick Stuart: Wha… WHAT THE HELL!?
Hanlon doesn’t move. Behind him, the seemingly bewildered expressions of Farthington and FLAMBERGE turn into smirks.
Jimmy Turnbull doesn’t know what to do. It’s clearly not a situation he’d ever been trained in. When Farthington sneaks on top of Sykes for the cover, he almost doesn’t realize that there is still a match that he has to officiate. At least, until Hanlon growls at him to “COUNT!”
DING DING DING
Even after the bell, there’s enough shock that there’s a delayed reaction from everyone. Vince Howard does not immediately make an announcement. Both commentators are stunned silent. Even the guy operating the PA system doesn’t quite get the memo that there should be some delightful tunes playing right now.
When Vince Howard finally gets enough in him to make the announcement, he can barely be heard over the fans’ increasing boos.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen… the winners of this match… FLAMBERGE AND CECILWORTH FARTHINGTOOOON!
FLAMBERGE moves forward with every intention of claiming the perfectly good neck of Jared Sykes. He gets as far as pulling him up halfway and preparing to apply the Marie Antoinette once again before Hanlon places a hand on his shoulder. He can be seen mouthing the words, “That’s enough.”
FLAMBERGE looks up at Hanlon, and for a moment, it looks like there’s going to be a fight. But once Farthington steps in between the two, things seem to be quelled. FLAMBERGE drops Sykes to the ground as though he’s made of wasps, and exits the ring. Farthington gives Hanlon a nod and does the same. And after another pause to look down at Sykes’ fallen body, Hanlon joins the Glueminati on the outside, along with a recovering Joe and Sid.
Nick Stuart: Folks, I… I don’t know what just happened, but… Hayes Hanlon is walking out of here with the Glueminati.
Richard Parker: I… I didn’t see this coming! Oh, man, I’m gonna have so much to talk about in the Cecilworth fanclub meeting later tonight!
“Choke” finally cues up in the PA system as a confused Jimmy Turnbull checks on the condition of Jared Sykes. Cameras cut back to the four – possibly now five – members of the Glueminati standing at the entryway with their arms raised in victory.
One thing is made clear with this final shot.
Y’all better get used to this sticky situation you’re all in.