FIVE STAR TITLE MATCH: CORAL AVALON (c) VS. SAGE PONTIFF
Let’s get to it.
Vince Howard: The following contest is scheduled for one fall and is for the PRIME FFFFFIIIIIIIIIIIIVE STAAAAAAAAAAR CHAMpionshiiiiiiiiip!!
Cue the cheering.
Vince Howard: Introducing first…
At first, darkness hits. Every light in The Pit fades, causing a buzz among the crowd and a few cellphone camera lights to twinkle into existence. The video screen shows a single glowing orb at the top of the screen. Lavender. Then another beneath it, blue. Teal. Green. Yellow. Orange. Finally, red–and then around it, the shimmering outline of a human body in lotus position. This hold on the screen as an almost marching drumbeat begins, pulsing throughout the arena.
Lights come up, pink in tone, all in time with a psychedelic drone of distorted guitar noise. As the solo of what could very well be an electric sitar begins, a figure walks out from the back. More accurately, he damn near glides. His neck is hanging with the weight of what seem to be many different strands of prayer beads. He is barefoot, his calf length, baggy pants a frankly offensive patchwork of tie dye, paisley, and other patterns. Hanging to the floor is a long, linen kimono in pure white.
Vince Howard: From the High Desert, Joshua Tree, California, he weighs in tonight at two-hundred and one pounds…
Sage Pontiff has arrived, and he throws his head back, practically bathing in the rain of flower petals.
There is no up or down
Your truth is the only master
Death is made by the living
Pain is only intense to you
He begins to slowly make his way down the ramp, occasionally twirling and oftentimes doing respectful bows to certain members of the audience, kissing his fingertips and then touching his forehead.
Vince Howard: He is the Bodhisattva of Transformative Experience…SAAAAGE PONTIIIIFF!!
Sage slides into the ring, kips to his feet fluidly, and then takes a running start and leaps flat footed, landing with a slight wobble on the top turnbuckle–but sticks the landing, and holds his arms out messianic-style, bathing in reactions. Mostly negative, though there are a smattering of true believers that are making themselves known over the jeers.
The Sun shines every day
The Sun shines every day
Sage executes a backflip from the top, landing on his feet, and bows to the crowd, and the toward Elvis Nixon before removing his kimono and beads. He begins to stretch, adopting the revolved crescent lunge, his fluidity and vascularity on full display as “Satori Part II” fades to nothing.
Nick Stuart: In his short time in PRIME Sage Pontiff has beaten hall of famers. He’s gone toe-to-toe with some of the most violent men this sport has to offer. The buzz around him continues to grow week after week. Could tonight be the night he tastes gold for the first time?
Richard Parker: Christ, I hope so. And maybe if we’re really lucky Avalon will learn something about himself along the way.
As Sage Pontiff awaits his opponent, he and the rest of the arena are bathed in darkness.
There is usually a pageantry associated with a Coral Avalon entrance. A little darkness. A little smoke. Here, there’s only darkness. The guitars of Monster Siren’s “Real Me” hit immediately, and Coral Avalon appears in a spotlight at the center of the stage. His entrance cloak is over his shoulders, but the 5-Star Championship belt gleams around his waist.
The Crownless King has arrived.
Vince Howard: And his opponent… now residing in Seattle, Washington! He weighs in at two hundred and fourteen pounds! HE IS THE CROWNLESS KING! HE IS THE FIVE-STAR CHAMPION! CORAAAALLLLLL AVALOOOOOOOONNNN!!!
There’s no battle standard tonight, either. Instead, the lights remain off and rows of smaller lights illuminate the walkway as Coral walks down the ramp, illuminating the champion in shadows. It’s only when he hops up on the apron that the house lights come up, then Coral enters the ring.
Nick Stuart: First title defense for Coral Avalon here in Albuquerque, Rich.
Richard Parker: And probably also the last.
Nick Stuart: I wouldn’t be so sure about that.
Richard Parker: I’m thinking about getting to know about these transformative experiences, Nick. Like, for example, Sage Pontiff transforming this guy into a broken pile of bones and tears.
Avalon enters the ring, moving towards the hard cam and throwing up both fists with his pinkie and ring fingers out. He keeps casting the occasional glance behind him towards Pontiff, expecting an ambush that doesn’t come. Once he’s done with his gesture, he takes his cloak off and passes it to the outside. He pulls the title from his waist and after a moment of giving it a look and a nod, hands it off to referee Ashley Barlow.
Both men move towards the center of the ring, but while Avalon has a fighter’s stance Pontiff looks much more relaxed. There’s a grin creeping across his face. Whatever happens next, he’s going to enjoy it. And then, when they two get close, Sage leads with a sharp headbutt to the bridge of Avalon’s nose.
Nick Stuart: The Bodhisattva of Transformative Experience looking to escalate things right away.
Richard Parker: I like that name. It’s like that one Steely Dan song I know. (singing) Bodhisattva, would you take me by the hand.
Nick Stuart: Oh no.
Avalon staggers, but comes right back with a European uppercut. Pontiff connects with a stiff forearm shot in return. Coral retaliates with another uppercut, but it’s caught and turned into an armdrag.
Richard Parker: (singing) Bodhisattva, would you take me by the hand.
Nick Stuart: Richard, I don’t think we have the rights to this one, and I’d rather we not get sued by Donald Fagen.
Richard Parker: (singing) Can you show me…
Nick Stuart: A second armdrag. Pontiff trying to exert his will in the early minutes of this match.
Richard Parker: (singing) The shine of your hot pants, the sparkly vagina…
Nick Stuart: Both men up to a vertical base, and… Wait, WHAT?!
Richard Parker: What?
Nick Stuart: I don’t think that’s the lyric, Richard. Shine of your JAPAN. Sparkle of your CHINA. Not… not what you said.
Pontiff throws himself off the ropes looking to build some momentum for his next move, but when he gets close enough Avalon gets a hold of him and executes a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker.
Richard Parker: Are you sure? Because what you said isn’t what I hear.
Nick Stuart: I’m positive.
Richard Parker: Huh. Well, that explains all the looks I get every time I sing it in public.
Avalon maintains his grip on Pontiff, lifts him back up off his knee, and brings him down with another backbreaker. Then, he moves for a cover.
Nick Stuart: I don’t think Avalon expected to win there, but it’s still a smart play to try and make Pontiff burn some energy in kicking out.
Richard Parker: K.
Nick Stuart: You don’t agre… Hold on, what are you doing?
Richard Parker: Oh, I was just looking up tour dates for Solid Gold Rock ‘N Roll. Because when they do rock-jazz fusion stuff it’s actually pretty badass.
Pontiff spins and connects with the Namaste thrusting mule kick to Avalon. It knocks the Five Star champion back out through the ropes and to the arena floor. While the Crownless King starts to recover, Pontiff is already stepping through the ropes to the outside. He runs along the ring apron before leaping onto Avalon’s shoulders, twisting, and bringing Coral to the ground with a hurricanrana. He follows it with a series of mounted punches.
Nick Stuart: The referee’s got to get both of these men back in the ring before this breaks down, and keeping Avalon on the outside actually works to his advantage because titles can’t change hands on countouts.
Richard Parker: I mean that’s wrestling 101, though. I assume everyone here knows that.
Nick Stuart: Ashley Barlow beginning her count.
Richard Parker: Maybe Terry Woods didn’t know that, but he’s gone to a better place.
As Barlow’s count creeps north of six, Pontiff pulls himself off of Avalon and rolls him back into the ring. As Coral starts to stir, Pontiff rebounds off the ropes and charges.
Nick Stuart: Cosmic Resonator!!
Richard Parker: Such a cool name.
Nick Stuart: Does Steely Dan have a song about that, too?
Richard Parker: What makes you think I like Steely Dan?
Nick Stuart: Because this is the second time you’ve brought them up during a Pontiff match.
The slingblade catches Coral flush around the neck and drives him to the mat. Pontiff doesn’t waste any time. He moves Avalon to a seated position and delivers a hard kick to the middle of the back, and then a second, almost daring him to get back to his feet.
Richard Parker: Oh hell no. I hate that band. Bunch of pretentious jerks fully up their own butts. I just remembered that one song, because of the words.
Nick Stuart: Oh.
Richard Parker: About sparkly crotches.
Nick Stuart: Goddammit, Richard.
When Avalon does stand, he’s first met with a straight headbutt, and then another kick drives the air from his lungs.
Nick Stuart: Pontiff with a hard kick to the midsection. He’s got Avalon in position! Could this be the end already?!
Richard Parker: Coral Avalon’s about to be sent to a higher plane. If he’s lucky, one where Steely Dan doesn’t exist.
Pontiff sets the Five Star champion in position, and then gets ready to end it. He leaps, beginning the front flip of the Shamanic Dreamweaver, but just as he’s about to reach the apex of his jump a pair of arms lock around Sage Pontiff’s legs. Coral Avalon immediately drops to his knees, bringing the ground up fast. This was supposed to be the move that ended the match and brought enlightenment to the Five Star division, but instead it’s been countered in brutal fashion.
A back-to-belly piledriver rocks Sage Pontiff, and bounces off the mat like a man diving in head-first to the shallow end of the pool.
Nick Stuart: Good god!!
Richard Parker: Oh damn.
Nick Stuart: Sage Pontiff was trying to put Coral Avalon away with the Shamanic Dreamweaver, but Avalon countered into a piledriver variant of his own.
Richard Parker: I mean, let’s be fair here, the way that went down it was almost like Pontiff tried to piledrive himself. With help. If you’re watching this at home, please do not try to piledrive yourself…
Nick Stuart: What? If you’re watching this at home, don’t piledrive anyone!
Richard Parker: Right. Don’t piledrive yourself, or anybody else, unless they really deserve it. Like let’s say you bet someone fifty dollars…
Nick Stuart: Richard!!
Avalon slides over and makes the cover.
Nick Stuart: Sage Pontiff kicked out! I don’t know how, but he just barely got that shoulder up in time.
Avalon steps out onto the ring apron, and using the ropes for leverage he ascends to the top buckle in a single step. The Crownless King wastes no time and immediately takes flight before Pontiff has time to recover and crushes him underneath a high angle frog splash. The impact knocks the wind out of both men, and for a time each is down on the canvas trying to recover.
Pontiff rolls onto his stomach and starts sliding towards the ropes, but Avalon recovers quick enough that he’s on him in a flash, trapping one leg and then applying the crossface to lock Sage in the STF.
Nick Stuart: Fans, Sage Pontiff is smiling. Coral Avalon has that STF locked in tight, but you can see it clear as day from the way the arms are positioned that Sage Pontiff seems to be enjoying every minute of this.
Richard Parker: You know what this reminds me of?
Nick Stuart: (sighing) No.
Richard Parker: You ever see that movie Hellraiser?
Nick Stuart: Okay, this is FOR SURE a conversation we are not having.
Pontiff begins using his arms and his free leg to try and drag both himself and the added weight of Avalon towards the ropes in an attempt to break the hold.
Richard Parker: No no, hear me out. So there’s the one guy who thinks, “Hey, lemme just buy this puzzle real quick,” only despite having a thing for violence he doesn’t really know what he’s getting into…
Nick Stuart: (deadpan) Uh huh.
Richard Parker: And then he solves it, and some devils show up in bondage gear, and they’re all, “Sup, dude. You just made a big oopsie-woopsie, and now it’s time to take a ride on the pain train. Uwu.”
When that doesn’t work as well as he’d hoped, he uses his hands to pull Avalon’s arm down a bit closer to his mouth. Pontiff’s teeth sink into the flesh around Avalon’s thumb, which earns him an admonishment from the referee but does ultimately break the hold.
Nick Stuart: Did you just say “uwu”?
Richard Parker: Anyway, the point is that it’s hard to beat a guy who seems to get some sort of high out of fighting. Have I made this comparison before? It feels like the sort of thing I’d say.
Avalon takes a moment to nurse his throbbing hand before turning his attention back to Pontiff, just in time for an awkward koppo-style kick to send Avalon stumbling back into the ropes. He needs to brace to prevent himself from falling between them, but as he works to regain his balance Pontiff is already bolting across the ring. He takes to the air, and a high body avalanche drives both himself and Avalon over the top rope and to the arena floor.
Nick Stuart: Both men down on the outside, and I don’t know which one got the worst of that!
Richard Parker: So yeah, that’s my Hellraiser argument. You wanna hear my theory on how the Colton family might secretly be gremlins? You know, like from the movie Gremlins?
Nick Stuart: Maybe we save that one for Tropical Turmoil, Richard.
Richard Parker: Oh, good call. Make the people want it.
Pontiff pulls Avalon over to the scene of a crime committed earlier in the evening: the ruins of Nick and Richard’s broadcast desk. Needless to say, the two men abandon their seats and move as far away as possible while still being able to do their jobs. Which is pretty far. Wireless technology is a trip.
Pontiff traps Coral in a front facelock, and while the microphones don’t pick up the words that he whispers to the Crownless King, the cameras definitely register the smile Sage has while he says them. A snap DDT spikes Avalon on to the remnants of the announce table, and then Sage sees something that makes his smile grow wider.
Nick Stuart: Pontiff looking for something here, Richard. It looks like… oh no.
Richard Parker: Is that one of our monitors? Hey, put that back! I need it for work.
The Bodhisattva of Transformative Experience glances at Richard and cocks an eyebrow.
Richard Parker: Or don’t. That’s cool, too. Namaste, my dude. You do you.
Sage first delivers a swift stomp to Avalon, then sets the monitor on his abdomen.
Nick Stuart: Nice Save, Richard.
Richard Parker: Thanks, I think it worked out okay for me.
Pontiff then collects a folding chair from the timekeeper’s area and pulls himself up onto the ring apron.
Nick Stuart: Fans, I don’t like to think about what must be running through Sage Pontiff’s head right now.
Richard Parker: Probably going to be real bad for Coral here.
The camera catches Richard pointing at the man laying only a few feet away from him.
Richard Parker: Somebody should probably move him. I’d do it, but… you know… he looks all sweaty and gross.
Ashley Barlow leans over the ropes to try and get some semblance of order restored, but Pontiff doesn’t seem to care. He collapses the chair, gets a running start along the edge of the ring, and then leaps. While in the air he puts the chair beneath his feet and then uses it to stomp the monitor into Avalon. There’s a collective groan from the crowd upon impact, but the landing isn’t clean. Sage stumbles on the landing, tripping forward and colliding torso-first into the nearby guardrail.
Nick Stuart: Good lord! Sage Pontiff using everything he can get his hands on tonight to try and end the reign of Coral Avalon!
Richard Parker: Yes. His title reign. That’s what he was trying to end. That and nothing else.
Nick Stuart: But now both men are down. Referee Barlow coming out to see if they can continue.
Richard Parker: Serious question, do we have a volume discount at the hospital here?
As the referee checks on both men, the scene for the fans at home switches to a picture-in-picture display. In the bottom corner we get the events happening in real time, as Sage uses the same guardrail he just crashed into to pull himself back up. In the big image, we get a slow-motion replay of the car crash that just happened outside the ring.
Nick Stuart: And now Pontiff is getting back to his feet. I don’t know he’s doing it, but I’ll be damned if he’s not still ready to go.
Indeed, Sage is standing, albeit a bit wobbly. He puts a hand to his mouth and draws it back bloody. Seeing this only seems to make him happier. He moves over to Coral, himself scratched and bloodied from the impact. Two of the corners from the monitor appear to have dug into the skin, leaving trenches in his flesh a few inches long.
Richard Parker: Well if Pontiff wants that title, he’s going to have to get Avalon back into the ring. And even if he doesn’t want the title, I would still very much appreciate it if he’d come and pick up his mess.
Sage drags Avalon up across his shoulders and rolls him in under the bottom rope before sliding in himself and attempting to make the cover.
There’s an eruption of cheering as the crowd realizes that Ashley Barlow is holding up only two fingers. Why?
Nick Stuart: Foot on the ropes! I don’t know how, but Coral Avalon managed to get his foot on the bottom rope.
Richard Parker: Which is crazy, because Sage totally smished him under that chair!
Nick Stuart: He what?
Richard Parker: Smished him. It’s like… Okay, you know how when a car hits something really fast and the front-end gets all smashed-up?
Nick Stuart: Yes.
Pontiff seems surprised, but somehow not disappointed as Barlow explains the situation to him. He paces a slow circle, working out his next play. Meanwhile, Avalon has made it over to the corner and has managed to use the ropes to pull himself up while he catches his breath.
Richard Parker: And then how you can step on a grape and it goes squish? And then you have to put on new socks?
Nick Stuart: Okay, sure, I’ll play along.
Richard Parker: Yeah, so when you combine the two… Smish.
Nick Stuart: You know, squishing something also kind of implies it was smashed, right?
Richard Parker: LET ME HAVE THIS, NICHOLAS, IT’S BEEN A LONG NIGHT!
With a plan now formulated, Pontiff stalks over towards Avalon, but is met with a running kick flush to the jaw.
Nick Stuart: Rhongomyniad! OUT – OF – NOWHERE!
The blow sends Pontiff tumbling over and onto his chest, but Avalon is unable to capitalize. He’s also down on the canvas again, but trying to stand once again.
Nick Stuart: You have to believe that he’s still feeling the effects of that stomp.
Richard Parker: Gee, ya think? I’m pretty sure it ruptured my colon and all I did was watch.
Avalon stands and pulls Pontiff up with him. He positions Sage’s head, and starts the process of trying to butterfly both arms for the Excalibur, but the delay following the first Armament means that Pontiff has some of his wits about him. He manages to break free, and then drills Avalon in the midsection with a kick. Coral doubles over, allowing Pontiff the chance to try and end this his way.
Nick Stuart: Sage Pontiff looking for that Shamanic Dreamweaver again. It went south the first time he attempted it tonight, but you have to figure that if he hits it now that this one is over.
Pontiff tries to get a solid grip on Avalon, but Coral counters by dropping to one knee and turning himself into dead weight. Sage responds by hammering blow after blow onto Avalon’s back to try and soften him up a bit further.
Coral manages to yank both of Pontiff’s feet out from under him and rolls through into a jackknife cover, but he’s too close to the ropes and has to immediately break. As soon as both men are on their feet, Pontiff tries for a jumping roundhouse, but Avalon manages to duck underneath.
Nick Stuart: You’re looking at two incredible physical specimens tonight, Richard. It’s amazing after all that’s happened in this match that they’re still able to go at it.
Richard Parker: Heh. “Go at it.”
Nick Stuart: Oh, for the love…
Pontiff has to work to regain his balance after the landing, which gives Avalon the opening to hit the opposite ropes and build up a head of steam. Pontiff turns just in time for Avalon to throw himself at Sage wheelbarrow-style, and then duck his head and roll both of them to the canvas.
Nick Stuart: European Clutch!
But Pontiff will not go quietly.
Despite his arms and legs both being trapped, he flails like a madman trying to break free and get his shoulders off the mat.
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: The winner of this match… and STIIIILL… Five Star champion… Coral Avalon!!
Nick Stuart: Avalon has done it! He managed to survive the onslaught, and he’ll walk out of here tonight as the Five Star champion!
Pontiff is seething, positively apoplectic. Somehow, Coral Avalon managed to withstand everything thrown at him to walk away the Five Star champion. The smile on his face as he finally leaves the ring isn’t one of a man content with the violence he’s brought tonight, but one who’s already thinking ahead to the level this will go the next time these two meet inside the ring.
Richard Parker: I’m just glad this means people are done bleeding near me for the day.
Referee Barlow hands Avalon his championship, and the Crownless King holds it high in celebration after surviving his first defense.
Nick Stuart: Well fans, for Richard Parker I’m Nick Stuart…
Richard Parker: I can’t do the outro?
Nick Stuart: And we’ll…
There’s a shift in the music being played through the arena. I Don’t Know How But They Found Me. “Choke.”