DUSK vs. TONY GAMBLE
Vince Howard: The following contest is scheduled for one fall!
Oh we’re getting right into it, kids.
Vince Howard: Making his way to the ring from Los Angeles, California and weighing in tonight at two-hundred and twenty-five pounds…
The lights dim, there is a long pause. Just as the crowd grows restless, fireworks explode all around the MGM-Grand Arena and “Death Grip” by Watt White engulfs the arena in sound.
And I’m fire
From the backstage area emerges “The Lost Soul” Dusk, who looks ready for a fight. He stands at the top of the ramp and looks out at the fans, many of whom are on their feet and chanting his name.
DUSK! DUSK! DUSK! DUSK!
The Lost Soul makes his way down the ramp, extending his arms and high-fiving the fans along the aisle.
Vince Howard: The Lost Soul… DUUUUUUUUUUUSK!!!!
There is no music.
Vince Howard: And his opponent…
There is no video playing on the screen.
Vince Howard: Umm…
All you hear is the roar of the crowd as they see the Enemigos walk out from behind the curtain with Tony ‘The Grin’ Gamble trying to flail around. One Enemigo has a grasp of his legs, while two others each have a hold of an arm. The fourth Enemigo is holding a kendo stick in his mouth, causing the screaming of Dusk’s first opponent on his ride off into the sunset tour to be heard as nothing more than a muffled pout.
Nick Stuart: You know, I’ve seen the Enemigos have to help carry people out of the ring before, but I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen them bring someone to the ring like this.
Richard Parker: It’s a shame they’re not doing more. Where’s the palanquin? Where are the pillows and aromatherapy candles? Someone get this man some grapes!
Nick Stuart: Why would they…?
Richard Parker: Tony Gamble is a Hall of Famer! He needed two stitches to help close that wound, Nick. Two! And there’s no telling what it did to him mentally; what toll it might have taken.
Nick Stuart: Oh, for the love…
The four Enemigos roll the disgruntled Permascar Superstar into the ring, their job now done as Tony just rolls onto his back and stays laying there with his arms folded across his chest.
Both the referee and Dusk share a glance, before they fix their eyes on Gamble. For his part, The Grin is not moving, simply looking back up at both men. He blinks once. Twice. Look, you know how blinking works, okay.
Nick Stuart: Not sure what Gamble’s game is here.
Richard Parker: Have you ever been carried around like that before? Like you’re a sack of human potatoes? It takes a lot out of you. Give the man a chance to rest before the match starts, whydontcha.
Elvis Nixon shrugs and signals the timekeeper.
Nick Stuart: Well the bell has sounded, so that means this match is officially underway.
Richard Parker: Hit the snooze bar, Tony!
What follows is an awkward moment where nothing happens. I would say literally nothing, but that’s not true, because time still advances, people breathe, whatever. The crowd begins to grow restless, as does at least one of the people in the ring.
Nick Stuart: If this is some sort of mind game, it seems to be working. Dusk starting to pace here.
Richard Parker: If this is some sort of mind game, then Gamble should know that Dusk’s brains are mush.
Nick Stuart: Can you be civil about this please?
Richard Parker: What? Just saying there’s not a lot to work with.
But, the bell did sound, so this is an official match. Which means it’s fair game when Dusk finally shrugs and tries to make a pin.
Richard Parker: See?! Like candy from a baby. Or a man who wears diapers. Same thing.
Only to get caught in a quick roll-up, complete with a handful of tights.
Nick Stuart: Smart play by Gamble, but it only manages to get a one-and-a-half. And it looks like he got caught for holding the tights!
Nixon admonishes Gamble, who is now on his knees after Dusk’s kickout. From the way the conversation is going, it appears as though he is trying to argue that his hand simply got stuck in Dusk’s gear. Astute observers will see that he very clearly mouths the phrase “Beetlejuice pants” as part of this exchange.
Dusk moves in, but Gamble immediately rises to his feet and flicks him in the eye before Elvis Nixon can get into position.
Nick Stuart: Blatant disregard for the rules right off the hop by Tony Gamble!
Nick. Buddy. Just you wait.
Richard Parker: That’s “PRIME Hall of Famer” Tony Gamble, to you, sir.
Nick Stuart: And he’s in there with another man who very well may join him in that shrine, Richard. It’s no secret that Dusk’s career is winding down, and when he finally hangs them up there’s a damn good chance he’s on the first ballot!
Richard Parker: I wouldn’t vote for him.
Elvis Nixon checks with The Grin on whether or not he did something illegal (he did), but Gamble denies it (he’s full of shit). When Nixon turns to check on Dusk, Gamble quickly reaches past him and flicks the Lost Soul in the other eye.
Yeah, it’s going to be one of those.
Nick Stuart: Oh, come on!
Richard Parker: ‘Ol Red Eyes really living up to the nickname early on, wouldn’t you say?
A few minutes into the match, and a single wrestling move hasn’t been executed yet. Elvis Nixon is already well and truly Over This Shit.
Gamble doesn’t give him a chance for another lecture, instead pushing past him and landing a series of hard punches to Dusk before the world returns to focus. A hard kick to the midsection follows, which drives the Lost Soul back into the corner, where Gamble unloads with a series of chops.
Richard Parker: Dusk’s chest is about to be as red as those eyes.
Nick Stuart: The man is a living legend in this sport, and the indignity he’s suffered so far in this match is ridiculous.
Dammit, Nick. I said WAIT.
A suplex out of the corner takes Dusk to the mat. Instead of going for a cover, Gamble rises to his feet and snaps an elbow drop down across the throat of the former Intense Champion. A second and third follow. The Grin could try to pin his opponent here, but instead kneels next to Dusk and waves a hand in front of his face. When Dusk doesn’t respond, Gamble points to Dusk, then gestures to his own eyes and shrugs at Elvis Nixon. The message here is, “I don’t think he can see me.”
Before either Dusk or Nixon can react, Gamble’s hand extends lightning quick. Flick.
This time it’s in plain view of the referee, who finally gets to give his first proper lecture of the night. Not that it matters, but at least he gets to feel good about himself for a while, and maybe dodge a lecture of his own from Timo later on.
Nick Stuart: (starts to speak)
Richard Parker: Okay, before you say anything, what if Gamble is just trying to help Dusk fix one of his contact lenses?
Nick Stuart: Richard.
Richard Parker: Maybe there’s a mosquito that we can’t see, and he just wants to make sure that Dusk doesn’t catch the West Nile virus. He’s right on the edge of that “might die from this” demographic, you know.
Gamble hits the ropes and rebounds looking for a leg drop, but despite being flicked in the eye three times already Dusk is able to roll out of the way and Gamble his only air. Well, air and his ass against the mat, but that last part was going to happen regardless. Look, it’s how leg drops work, okay?
Moving with the speed of a man who doesn’t have dinner at 4pm, Dusk bolts in and drills Gamble square in the mush with a shining wizard. The move rocks Gamble, because of course it does. Getting that close to the squishy bits of a man old enough to have sat front row at the Crucifixion would rattle anyone. Also Dusk hits really hard. That’s probably the key takeaway from all of this, in fact.
Dusk gets to his feet, and pulls Gamble in. A piledriver puts The Grin right back down.
Richard Parker: This is just awful. Dusk of all people should know of the danger that concussions can pose!
Nick Stuart: I want to ask if you’re serious right now. I won’t, but I want to.
A savvy veteran of the squared circle, Gamble rolls out of the ring to the arena floor, but Dusk gives chase.
Nick Stuart: I don’t know if I’d follow him out there. This has to be a trap. There is no way that Gamble isn’t planning something.
Richard Parker: In fairness, Dusk is probably going senile. Maybe he thinks Gamble is a lost child who needs help finding his way home.
Meanwhile, Gamble immediately lifted the ring apron and crawled under the ring.
Nick Stuart: I will never understand how your brain works, Richard.
Richard Parker: Oh, really? You think you’re a cakewalk to figure out? Why am I getting Bath And Body Works gift cards, Nick? I told you they stopped carrying my favorite scent years ago! Rest in power, Almond Blossom.
And when Dusk lifts that same side of the apron to give chase, he’s met with a billowing cloud of smoke.
Nick Stuart: You have got to be kidding me.
Richard Parker: No, I’m serious. You can’t even buy it online now.
Nick Stuart: That’s NOT what I mean.
Unless you’re new – and if you are, then welcome to PRIME; shit gets weird here – then you know that the Lost Soul has a certain affinity for smoke machines. This is the polite way of saying, “he used one this one time and no one will let him forget it ever.”
So guess where the smoke under the ring came from.
Nick Stuart: Just like I said, Richard. Gamble had a trap planned, and Dusk walked right into it.
Richard Parker: I bet he walks into a lot of things, though. The ‘ol eyesight gets a little weak as you get older.
For a moment Dusk is obscured by smoke. What follows is the sound of a loud crunch – say, the sound a smoke machine would make if you were to bash someone in the face with it – and then Dusk staggers out of the cloud with a brand new cut on his forehead. He’s also holding his crotch. The Vegas faithful are none too pleased about this development.
Nick Stuart: Blatant cheating again by Tony Gamble!
Richard Parker: Blatant? I don’t know what you saw, but all I watched was a foggy boi stagger around the ring.
Nick Stuart: Oh, come on! It’s clear that Gamble took a shot with that fog machine.
Richard Parker: First rule of wrestling, Nick – if the ref don’t see it then it don’t count.
This doesn’t stop Elvis Nixon from lambasting Gamble as he rolls into the ring. It’s his job to maintain the rules, after all, and right now those rules seem to have flown right out the window and into the engine of a passing 747. Everyone on that plane is dead now.
Gamble just holds up a finger to silence Nixon, then walks over to the ropes closest to Dusk and begins pantomiming a slow count to ten. After the four-count, he glances back over to Nixon then gestures to Dusk. Begrudgingly, Nixon complies and begins a count of his own.
Nick Stuart: This is ridiculous.
Nick Stuart: Tony Gamble very clearly planted that under the ring, and then very clearly hit Dusk with it!
Richard Parker: You’re making a lot of assumptions, buddy.
Nick Stuart: Well then how do you explain what else we saw, because it’s also clear that he hit a low-blow on Dusk in the commotion.
Richard Parker: I dunno, enlarged prostate? Men of a certain age…
Nick Stuart: Oh god enough already!
It’s here where Dusk slides into the ring, having gained a few extra seconds because of the argument between Gamble and Nixon. He tries to push himself up to his feet, but is immediately caught in a front facelock by Gamble, and snapped down with a DDT. He wastes no time in going for the cover afterwards.
Richard Parker: What do you have to say about that, Nick? Gamble is an honorable man, trying to end this match honorably in the middle of the ring. Honorable.
Nick Stuart: Sometimes I just can’t with you.
The crowd collectively holds its breath, and then roars a sigh of relief as Dusk manages to get his shoulder up a hair away from the three count. Gamble tries to protest, but the smile on Nixon’s face as he explains how counting works is visible from the last row of the arena.
Nick Stuart: Dusk will not be denied!
Richard Parker: Denied what? Medicare coverage? Enrollment in the AARP?
The chants start to build, slowly at first and then picking up steam.
DUSK! DUSK! DUCK? DUSK!
Richard Parker: Oh no. Nick, I might be hallucinating, because I swear to god I just heard one guy chant “duck”.
Dusk pushes himself back to his feet, but Gamble doesn’t give him room to breathe. A right hand from The Grin is blocked, and Dusk lands a forearm shot of his own. A second right is blocked, and a second forearm lands. Then a third. Then a fourth. Within seconds, a flurry of strikes connect with Gamble’s jaw, staggering him back. Gamble charges with a clothesline, but Dusk ducks deftly, dodging destruction despite the dire, debilitating damage done to his dome to date. Gamble’s momentum takes him to the opposite ropes, but as he rebounds Dusk is waiting, connecting with a thundering spinebuster and a cover of his own.
Nick Stuart: Now it’s Dusk’s turn with the cover! Nixon with the count!
Richard Parker: No! Hit him with another smoke machine Tony!
Nick Stuart: I knew it!
Richard Parker: I meant allegedly!
The crowd lets out a collective, “Oooohh” as Gamble gets his shoulder up. Because, and here’s the thing, as he was being covered Gamble positioned his arm strategically, so that when his shoulder came up his arm caught Dusk right in the sensitive bits. And he did this away from the prying eyes of Elvis Nixon, so that he wouldn’t get disqualified for it.
Nick Stuart: Again? AGAIN?!
Richard Parker: What? He kicked out. Got that shoulder up. Since when is that against the rules?
For what feels like the tenth time this match, Elvis Nixon has words with Tony Gamble. Gamble, true to form, is in full denial mode, swearing up and down that all he did was kick-out. Technically, he’s correct, but we all know the truth, Tony.
Dusk, still tender from the shot he suffered earlier in the match, looks irate. He uses the ropes to pull himself up, and doesn’t wait for Gamble and Nixon to finish their conversation. As soon as he sees an opening, he takes it. The crowd erupts.
Nick Stuart: Superkick! The patented Dusk superkick! Delivered with pinpoint accuracy!
Luckily for Elvis Nixon, he’s done for the night after this match, which will give him time to change his underwear. The kick, connecting hard with the side of Gamble’s face, came dangerously close to Nixon’s own jaw.
Richard Parker: Did you see that, Nick? He tried to assault the referee! Maybe he needs glasses. Did you see Tony trying to help check his eyesight earlier? Truly a man of the people.
Nick Stuart: Will you stop!
Now it’s Dusk’s turn to play. He doesn’t move to cover Gamble, and instead waits for him to slowly get back to wobbly feet. And then…
Nick Stuart: Another superkick! Dusk trying to send a message tonight.
Richard Parker: Smoke machines can’t also send faxes. Get it? Because old.
The cover is made, and the count begins.
Nick Stuart: I think this could be all!
Richard Parker: I think Lindsay Troy’s office should levy a hefty fine against Dusk for almost striking an official!
Richard Parker: A hefty. Fine.
DING DING DING
Dusk moves to the corner for a post-match celebration on the second rope while Tony Gamble’s world slowly comes back into focus. If you think Elvis Nixon is smiling, well congratulations! You’re correct. There is no prize, and you win nothing. Good day, oh reader mine.
Nick Stuart: Dusk has taken this match, and with it the first name is crossed off of his list!
Richard Parker: Bucket list, more like.
Nick Stuart: I know the fans are wondering what the other names might be, and we here at the broadcast desk are just as curious.
Richard Parker: My money’s on Father Time and The Grim Reaper.