FADE FROM VOID
There is none of the regular bombast and intensity to open the twenty-third installment of ReVival.
Instead, as the feed fades in from a long, sustained image of VOID, we open on a tight shot of a filth-encrusted hand strumming down the strings of an acoustic guitar.
In the corner of the guitar’s body, there is Woodie Guthrie-style writing that reads: THIS MACHINE KILLS NORMIES.
“This one goes out to an ol’ friend who couldn’t be here tonight.”
The hands begin strumming the guitar again, going straight into a song. A simple yet somewhat somber four-chord movement that repeats itself endlessly. Some arguably less-cultured and degenerate fans of the punk rock musical genre might recognize it as the work of a one GG Allin.
In any case, the shot begins to slowly and methodically zoom out. After a beat, the guitarist is revealed in full…
It’s the great usurper himself. The newly crowned PRIME Universal ANTI-Champion. The prognosticator of the “Punk Rock Induced Mass Extinction”. The untimely END of all things as we know it.
Rezin smirks at the camera the moment his sinister, scruff-lined face comes into the frame. The headset mic he’s wearing picks up his ear-grating rasps as he launches into the first verse.
Rezin: ♫Well, you want me to kiss your ass?♫
♫Bend over, buddy, here comes my foot.♫
♫I don’t need your cry-ass shit.♫
♫Temper’s risin’, take a fist.♫
His singing voice is everything you’d expect it to be. Fortunately for him, its original author was hardly a dulcet voice himself.
The shot continues to zoom out. Rezin is seated somewhere… but it’s still unclear as to where. Both the sounds of the guitar and his voice cast a heavy reverb not unlike that of a sports arena’s public address system.
Rezin: ♫Bite it, ya scum…♫
♫Bite it, ya scum…♫
♫Bite it, ya scum…♫
♫Bite it, ya scum.♫
The snail-paced zoom continues to reveal more of his surrounding area. The Goat Bastard is perched on a concrete ledge. Behind him, we can barely see rows of seated spectators on the mezzanine level.
Rezin: ♫Well, you want me to contribute.♫
♫All I got is blood for you.♫
♫All ya want is more and more.♫
♫Gluttony, ya pig, ya whore.♫
The crane-mounted camera backs far enough away to show Rezin sitting on the edge of the upper level of the Smoothie King Center.
The arena is packed to the brim with thousands of wrestling fans, who are at present not screaming with excitement, but instead quietly taking in this absurd what-the-fuckery being bestowed upon them by their Universal Champion.
Rezin: ♫So bite it, ya scum!♫
♫Bite it ya, scum!♫
♫Yeah, bite it, ya scum!♫
♫Bite it, ya scum!♫
The crane pulls out more, taking in the rest of the stage. The ramp. The ring. On the PRIMEview, a montage of mushroom clouds adds to the somber and foreboding ambience.
Rezin: ♫One day when your end is near,♫
♫I’ll be laughin’ at your fear!♫
♫When you’re gone there’ll be no one♫
♫Who’ll be fucking up my fun. Heh heh… NO one!♫
All eyes are entranced on the crust punk ensconced in the spotlight, strumming away above rolling scenes of destruction. He’s a mere speck above everything else.
Rezin: ♫So bite it, ya scum!♫
♫Bite it, ya scum! Here I come!♫
♫Bite it, ya scum! I ain’t ever gonna run!♫
♫Bite it, ya scummm…♫
Rezin strums the final chord, and the PRIMEview likewise cuts to black as the song ends. The Crescent City’s wrestling fanbase, comparable in reputation to that of their city, let themselves be heard. The ovation comes like a tidal wave of voices, mixed between resounding applause and irate lamentations.
The Escape Artist sets the guitar aside, sparks up a J, and lets out a hit before addressing the crowd en masse.
A thunderous caterwaul fills the arena off of the hometown mention. It’s a loud and riotous clash of sides, seething jeers fighting to be heard over rebellious cheers. Pockets of PRIMEates in blue and white pick shouting matches with uproarious throngs of locals in red and black.
Rezin: I guess I should fill in all ya GRIMEates out there on my history with this place NOLA, and all these crazy sum’bishes that live around here.
Everywhere, it’s insults, and praises, and chants, and curses. Absolute cacophony. Pure chaos. The kind that brings a devious smile to the face of the Universal Champion.
Rezin: See, a few years ago I arrived in this very city, searchin’ for something I couldn’t find back in the safety and relative obscurity of the indies. And it was here, in this city of New Orleans, where I began a new and excitin’ chapter in his life. A career renaizzance, if you will.
He pulls up to his feet and begins pacing along the edge of the mezzanine, brazenly overlooking the masses beneath him from the undeniably dangerous height.
Rezin: It was HERE, in this beautiful, ever-sinkin’, ever-stinkin’ BOG ya call the Big Easy, where I laid the foundations to the professional wrestling A-PUNK-alpyse! Where this ol’ DOPESMOKER evolved into somethin’ new. Somethin’ strong. Something… DEFIANT!
Big cheers from the representatives of the red and black, who DEFIANTly pump their fists into the air in a show of support for the man who fought for the reputation of being known as the Favoured Sinner of NOLA.
Rezin: So it seems almost fittin’, that we should be here tonight. In the place where this long, crazy journey began. Almost as if it was fated to be so. Only… I ain’t a believer in fate.
He slowly shakes his head. Throughout his monologue, the Goat Bastard procures a soiled burlap sack.
Rezin: What I DO believe in is predestination. Universal cause and effect, passing through eons, on imperceivable, macroscopic levels. A kinda cosmic gumbo, if ya will. All events are set into motion, influenced by events of the past, as they will influence the events of the future. Hence, the sequence of events that led us all here. That led ME here… a DEVIL, standing atop the pinnacle of professional wrestling Heaven.
His dastardly grin widens as he opens it up and reaches into the sack.
Rezin: What I believe… is that the Big Bang was not an act of creation. But one of DESTRUCTION. And I am its hand.
What he pulls out causes some in the audience to scream in shock and revulsion…
As far as championship belts go, the prestigious Universal Title looks like a kidnapping victim that’s been kept in a dingy cellar for a few weeks. Layers of filth and grime are smeared across the belt’s gilded faceplate, further defaced with the word “ANTI” slathered above the engraving of “CHAMPION”.
Rezin: And like Oppenheimer before me, I… have become DEATH! The DESTROYER of WORLDS!
Seeing the belt and all the legacy that goes with it in this miserable and misbegotten state elicits a savage uproar from the PRIME faithful. Some out there are calling for his head. Their fervor only seems to feed his dark delights.
Rezin: I know, I know… this ain’t the warm and fuzzy story ya all wanted. The same ol’ tired delusion of good winnin’ out in the end… validatin’ your belief that all that holdin’ onto hope didn’t go to waste. Believe me, I know I’ve disrupted a LOT of plans… but y’all shoulda known by now, that DISRUPTION is exactly what I do! It was everything I PROMISED ya!
Rezin tsk-tsks and dangles the strap out in the air in front of him as though he were holding it hostage, showing the entire world of professional wrestling that the very universe is in his black tar-stained hands.
Rezin: So here’s where we stand, PRIME… I ain’t out here just to pat myself on the back and walk to the back where I can just sit on my ass until Culture Shock! Now that I got this belt, I ain’t just gonna lay back and rest! Naww, I’m goin’ FORWARD, and hittin’ HARDER!
More cheers from the red and black demo. Rezin is getting more amped up, pacing back and forth along the ledge with reckless abandon.
Rezin: YOUR ANTI-CHAMPION demands TRIBUTE… and I AIN’T LEAVIN’ THIS PLACE until I’ve KICKED SOMEONE’S ASS!! So before I start gettin’ ancy, and, I dunno, do something rash like BURNIN’ THE WHOLE DAMB BUILDING DOWN… how ‘bout someone in that locker room SACK UP, and come WALK IN THE FIRE with HELL’S FAVORITE–
“WHEN MY BACK’S TO THE WALL!”
“Daggers” by We Came As Romans hits the PA so goddamn hard that it throws the Goat Bastard completely off balance. Rezin does a spastic dance with his limbs twirling in every direction while he teeters precariously over the edge and scrambles to steady himself.
Meanwhile, all the attention has gone to the entry-way below the Universal Champion’s perch. The PRIMEates are building themselves into a fever pitch, when a figure steps into view against the wall of white light. We don’t need the specifics.
The Event Horizon takes a few steps out. Ring gear on, despite no match on the card.
Boots and Bolts.
Hayes, with no smile to be found behind that dark mustache, makes it about halfway down the ramp, then turns, looking upward to PRIME’s ANTI-Champion, and produces a mic as his music trails off.
Hayes Hanlon: Hell’s Favorite what, Erik?
Up above, Rezin legs dangling freely beneath him, one hand clutching the ledge rail to keep him from falling while the other still has hold of the Universal Title. He’s evidently too far into a state of shock and rage to realize that he’s literally hanging on by his fingertips.
Hayes Hanlon: Hell’s Favorite jackass?
Hayes Hanlon: Hell’s Favorite pile of sentient roadkill?
Hayes Hanlon: Hell’s Favorite STAIN smeared on a belt held by GIANTS?
The Goat Bastard seethes in anger, furiously kicking his legs and whipping the belt around in every direction. He’s torn between giving the Event Horizon the thrashing of his life and keeping himself from falling to his death.
Hayes Hanlon: Oh, you thought I’d tuck tail? Go hide in the corner until Culture Shock?
Home Run Hayes shakes his head “no,”, lips curling behind his ‘stache.
Hayes Hanlon: Did I run and hide when Bathory knocked me out of the tournament last year? Nope. I showed up and took the Five Star Championship. Took it from you if your melted brain remembers clearly.
Rezin angrily shakes his head in denial, shouting obscenities below. Like “ya got lucky!”. And “I had bad tacos that night!”. And “Cece Ryan’s PED’s slowed me down!”
Hayes Hanlon: Did I disappear when you beat me at Great American Nightmare for the same belt? NOPE. I showed up the next ReVival and put Cancer Jiles on his freakin’ back. And followed that up with dropping the Gigantic Russian Douchebag on his god-damn HEAD.
The Goat Bastard scoffs this off, but the crowd are rallying behind the former champ. If there was anyone in the red and black that had the scoundrel Rezin’s back, they’re being drowned out by a cresting wave of support for Home Run Hayes.
Hayes Hanlon: And then I capped it all off by winning THAT.
Hayes points to the Universal Championship in Rezin’s grip, keeping the mic at his mouth and his finger lingering on the gold.
Hayes Hanlon: And then you took it from me again.
The sneer on the face of the Escape Artist flashes back into a grin. His hands pull the Universal Championship into his chest, and he goads Hanlon below by running his tar stained fingers up and down the face of the belt.
Hayes Hanlon: And that’s plenty fuel for that fire, Erik. PLENTY.
Hayes Hanlon: You want someone to walk through that fire? Then come off that perch, buddy! I’ll walk it with you again, and this time I’ll leave you BURNING IN IT! All before we meet one more time at Culture Shock, where I’m gonna drop 400 pounds of Soviet SHIT on your freakin’ head…
The Event Horizon, nearly red in the face, thrusts his finger once more toward the Universal Title.
Hayes Hanlon: …and take THAT BACK!
HOME-RUN-HAYES!! HOME-RUN-HAYES!! HOME-RUN-HAYES!! HOME-RUN-HAYES!!
The whole building is now staunchly behind the deposed former Universal Champion. Much to the chagrin of Rezin, who paces back and forth on the ledge, huffing and puffing with the strap dangling from waist-level. Finally, he readjusts his headset to be heard again.
Rezin: GWAAALLDAAMMB YOOOU, HHAAAYYESS HAAANNLAAAAWWNN!! When I said I wanted to kick someone’s ass, I didn’t mean YOURS! I meant someone like the EVANSVILLE kid! But YOU?! YOU are BEEN THERE and DONE THAT!
He provokingly holds out the Universal Title once again.
Rezin: This is now TWICE I’ve taken PRIME gold from you! Don’t you GET IT yet? You’re DONE! DEFEATED! OBLITERATED! As OUTTA STYLE as that Tom Selleck pussy-broom ya got hangin’ offa your lip!
With a crusty cackle, the Universal Championship goes back into its holding place in the burlap sack, and the “ANTI” Champion threateningly points down to Hanlon.
Rezin: But I’ll tell ya WHAT, HAMMY HHAAAYYYESSS! Since ya gone and EMBARRASSED ME in front of MY PEOPLE… AND, seein’ as I can’t help but be IMPRESSED by this DEATH WISH ya got goin’ on… I think I can OBLIGE in your humble request to have my FOOT lodged into your STUPID FACE YET AGAIN!!
The arena fills with a booming pop, the fans suddenly enticed with the prospect of ReVival picking up right where the last one left off, with these two going tooth and nail with the greatest prize in professional wrestling on the line.
Rezin: So STAY RIGHT THERE, HHAAAYYESS HAAANNLAAAAWWNN!! Cause when I get down there, I’M BRINGIN’ HELL WITH ME!!
Rezin steps out of the spotlight and wanders into the darkness.
Rezin: Wait a sec… where am I? Section O…? No, wait… that’s a Q! Damnbit, wrong way…
He pops into the spotlight and once again wrathfully points down on Hammerin’ Hayes, who stands impatiently waiting with his hands on hips.
Rezin: DON’T YOU MOVE, HHAAAYYYESSS!! I’m COMIN’ FOR YA!!
He steps back into the darkness going into the other direction.
Rezin: Hang on… where the hell are the stairs?! Fuck…
He awkwardly appears again in the spotlight, looking more frazzled than ever.
Rezin: Okay so clearly, I didn’t think this through, but mark my words, I’m GONNA KICK YOUR ASS, HAMMY HHAAAYYYESSS! Just… AS SOON AS I FIND MY WAY DOWN THERE!
Ivan Stanislav: Perhaps I can be of service, comrade?
Rezin: Yeah, that’d be great, Ivan, thanks. …wait a sec–IVAN?!
Indeed. But just as it hits him that the towering Russian Bear is standing right behind him there on the upper level, he finds himself being lifted off his feet…
…and launched OFF THE EDGE!
Ivan Stanislav: DYA-HAAA-HAA-HAAAAA!!
Screams rise out of the crowd from every corner of the arena as the Escape Artist’s flailing body flies helplessly through the air on a crash course to certain doom.
Hayes doesn’t think. He moves.
The New Orleans faithful recoil en masse in aghast shock. Hanlon, moving like a human laser, successfully manages to get from the stage to the point of impact. Unfortunately, selflessly breaking the man’s fall does almost just as much damage to himself. He collapses painfully to the floor the moment the Goat Bastard’s body comes down upon his waiting arms and chest.
The two lie in an ugly, crumbled heap of torsos and limbs amid dozens of stunned fans. Meanwhile, up above, the perpetrator of this catastrophe proudly fills the spotlight. As Stanislav’s guffawing laugh echoes from above, the camera on the crane picks up his booming voice.
Ivan Stanislav: American elevators take so long to Hell, Rezin! I give you express trip, straight from the Motherland! I thought “Home Run” was supposed to be good at hitting fast balls, not catching foul ones! DYAAHAAHAA!!
Stanislav dusts his hands off, and then brings one hand to his forehead, wipes some sweat off his brow, and flicks it over the edge while medical personnel begin to check on the two men. Hayes is the first one to be lifted to his feet while Ivan bellows once more.
Ivan Stanislav: That will teach both of you to have party with the man who has been part of a Party his entire life! Rest assured, people of PRIME, a man of true integrity and grit will soon turn PRIME blue Russian red!
Content with the wreckage he has wrought for a second ReVival in a row, Stanislav turns to a chorus of boos, not to mention a great deal of vitriol by the audience near him, and makes his exit.
Down below, PRIME’s medical team break out the stretcher for Rezin, although the burlap sack containing the Universal Title never leaves his clutches. The moment he’s strapped in, he’s already fighting to break free.
With arms draped around the necks of two crew members, Hanlon has managed to pull himself up, although his face shows that he is in complete agony. Still, seeing the former Universal Champion being helped to the back on his own two feet lifts the spirits of the despondent New Orleans crowd.
Through all of the confusion, Nick Stuart and Richard Parker can be seen scampering down the rampway.
Nick Stuart: I cannot believe we’re late! I’m never letting you drive again!
Richard Parker: How was I supposed to know they were having a parade!?
Nick Stuart: It’s New Orleans, Rich! Does MARDI GRAS ring any bells?
Richard Parker: Oh, sue me! If you told me that people were in the streets exposing themselves and vomiting all over the place, I’d tell you it’s just another day in the Big Easy!
Getting to ringside, they shuffle behind the commentary desk and quickly get their affairs in order.
Richard Parker: See? We’re here, and they haven’t even started yet!
Nick Stuart: Don’t count your blessings, partner… wait a minute, what’s going on here? Did we miss something?
Parker doesn’t seem to hear him as he puts on his headset and another voice takes his attention.
Richard Parker: Forget whatever that was, cause we’re LIVE, pal!