Avalon turns, more than a little annoyed. He doesn’t have much of a prematch ritual, but common courtesy says that you don’t bug the champion at the zero hour. This is the moment right before you dive out of the plane, the trip to the beaches of Normandy, this is the twilight moment of silence in between preparation and the pure chaos of the match. But his annoyance fades from that to a general disdain when he sees who called to him–dressed in a long silken kaftan, his lean body on display, and a crown of flowers in his hair. It could be none other than The Bodhisattva of Transformative Experience, Sage Pontiff, eternally somewhere between Midsommar and Burning Man.
Coral Avalon: Really? You want to do this here? Now? Really?
Sage Pontiff: What better time than on the eve of such a momentous occasion? We’re going out there to evolve, man. You’re going to be a different being than you were when you walked in.
Coral Avalon has the look of a man who knows that the “different being” he’s going to be when he walks out of ReVival 29 might have a lot less blood than before. He’s accepted this. It’s all a part of his plan. What isn’t part of his plan is Sage talking to him right before the match.
He calms himself. He knows he has to.
Coral Avalon: Yeah, okay. It’s all a part of your transformative experience, right? Walk in as caterpillars, walk out as butterflies. Only… your idea of evolution here is that we’re going to beat each other unrecognizable in that ring tonight. Paint the canvas crimson. You claim that you’re not a man of desire, but… that’s what you want to do, right?
The Bodhisattva, to his credit, leans against a wall and considers this, his brow furrowing with inquisitive thought.
Sage Pontiff: That’s a good question, actually. I would say less ‘want to’ and more ‘compelled to’–you’re talking about mindless violence, right? Even in your choice of words, the focus is on the outcome. Faces lumpy and misshapen, leaking gouts of blood, molars loose. That’s like performing a life-saving surgery and talking about the condition of your scrubs, man. Surface. I want to achieve new heights in understanding. I want you to become more than you are and to earn what you desire through spiritual evolution. That’s what I want.
He looks to Coral, smiling his brilliant, million dollar, dream seller smile.
Sage Pontiff: It just so happens that engaging in sacred combat is the express train to that destination.
Coral Avalon: Uh-huh. You know, that’s a lot of fancy talk, and I get it because I accept that that’s how you are, but… I’m gonna be honest, that all just sounds like “yes” to me.
Coral shrugs his shoulders, never taking his eyes off of Sage for a second.
Coral Avalon: So, if you want – sorry, are compelled – to evolve us in this match, you should know that I’m very familiar with the need to evolve in the middle of a match. I was trained by the man that I’ve always called the Charles Darwin of pro wrestling, after all. I’m not even the same wrestler I was when I first rejoined PRIME as I am right this second.
At the very least, Coral now knows better than to accept matches that involve bicycles. After a moment’s pause, he speaks again right before Sage has a chance to respond.
Coral Avalon: Of course, I know you meant evolution in the spiritual sense and not in a wrestling knowledge sense. So, I welcome you to show me what that kind of spiritual evolution you’re offering, Sage. And I will be just as happy to show you how you’ve earned a Darwin Award tonight. It’ll be… enlightening.
Pontiff smiles genuinely and nods his head, seemingly in agreement? He’s not particularly easy to read on a good day, much less in the anticipatory heat of this moment. He taps to his ear, as the throbbing drumbeat of “Satori part II” begins to pulse through the arena. He leans closer, his eyes not once faltering from Coral’s, their gaze almost rippling the air between them.
Sage Pontiff: Hear that, majesty? The call to prayer, the bells of my church. We are going to achieve something you still stubbornly refuse to believe is even possible. But look at my eyes, Coral: you are forgiven for your lack of faith in yourself. I will show you what Coral Avalon will achieve. Ignore this…
He emphatically taps the belt, causing his opponent to instinctively recoil–he has no idea if Sage intends to sucker-punch him. Noticing this, Pontiff grins.
Sage Pontiff: …ignore this material possession. The crown doesn’t make the king. No matter how hard you believe it does.
With that, he walks backwards, arms stretched out, messianic-like. His gaze doesn’t leave Coral’s until he’s literally at the curtain to emerge to the entrance–then he turns, walking out to the crowd, and leaving the champion with his thoughts.