FOR HE’S A JOLLY GOOD COMRADE
Nick Stuart: Well folks, it’s time for our second match on the card. We have Kohime Mori…
Richard Parker: …and Alexei Ruslan.
Nick Stuart: No, Richard, it’s Kenny Freeman.
Richard Parker: No, Ruslan is walking down to the ring.
Nick Stuart: Great…
Indeed, Alexei Ruslan’s presence does nothing to please the crowd as the boo’s begin to slowly swell through the Capital One Arena. The Masters of the Moscowverse, Kenny Freeman and Randall Schwartz, emerge together and carry what might be the largest podium known to man.
They struggle mightily to carry said wooden podium, with Kenny in front and Randall in the back. Ruslan makes no attempt to look back at them, nor to help them, as he ascends the stairs and climbs into the ring. He grins wide and waves to the crowd, who can only pepper him with more derision.
Nick Stuart: Certainly not the warmest welcome for Mr. Ruslan and the rest of The Red Army.
Richard Parker: Yeah but not all of The Red Army. Where’s Ivan?
Ruslan looks at Kenny and Richard as they climb the stairs and try to get the podium between the ring ropes, somehow. He barks at them and moves closer, before resting his hip on the middle ring rope to give them more room. It’s a painfully slow affair. Kenny first tries to rest the top of the podium on the middle rope, but it slides towards Ruslan. Then he tries to get Ruslan to hold it steady, but that’s a bridge too far as Ruslan simply gawks at him.
Randall tries to direct traffic from behind, before having a look under the ring. Randall exclaims “Eureka!” as he pulls out a large wheeled dolly, which confuses everyone greatly as to how a dolly’s been sitting under the ring this whole time…a bit of confusion that goes completely over Randall’s head as he directs Kenny to help him move the podium onto the dolly, carefully wheeling it under the bottom rope into the ring. Ruslan simply stands in the ring with his hands on his hips. He checks his watch.
Nick Stuart: Oh this is painful…
Finally, the podium is set upright in the middle of the ring. It is literally as tall as the six foot tall Ruslan, and taller than Kenny and Randall. Ruslan produces a microphone from his brown overcoat.
Alexei Ruslan: HELLO WASHINGTON DISTRICT COLUMBIA!!
Alexei Ruslan: Where your country dictates your rules but you have no say. American Democracy in action!!!
Richard Parker: Hey he kind of has a poi—
Nick Stuart: Don’t start, Richard.
Alexei waves his hand broadly and continues beaming his glimmering smile.
Alexei Ruslan: I wished to take this time, as a surprise, to celebrate the great victories of our dear comrade, Praporshchik Ivan Stanislav!!!
He yells this as if it should garner him some sort of raucous ovation.
It does not. But he does check to make sure Kenny and Randall are clapping. Randall is absolutely ecstatic, but Kenny does a double take and then begins to clap the moment Ruslan looks at him. Alexei looks back to the crowd.
Alexei Ruslan: We stand here committed to recognizing the overwhelming triumphs of The Red Army! Why, I even asked Lindsay Troy if she wanted to put the weight of PRIME behind this occasion and she was so torn. I told her not to worry about it, we know the truth! Even Lady Troy wholeheartedly supports us!
Nate Stuart: Does that make any sense to you? Because it sure doesn’t to me.
Richard Parker: Well.. I mean… it uh…
Alexei Ruslan: So without further ado, let us give a fond “taxation without representation” surprise welcome to Praporshchik Ivan Stanislav!!
“The Soviet National Anthem” explodes through the arena, and we mean it explodes. Children scream and cover their ears as communist fanfare and loud Russian all-male choir singing is dialed to 11. It takes about one verse of uproarious Russian singing before Ivan walks out from backstage with a perplexed look on his face.
Nick Stuart: You know, I don’t think Ivan knew this was happening. He does look confused.
Indeed, Ivan is dressed in his ring attire, but as he walks down to the ring, he furrows his bushy brows at the setup in the ring. He takes one step up onto the apron and a second step over the top rope and looks down at his comrades.
Richard Parker: Oh I get it! That podium is so big because Ivan is big!
Nick Stuart: I said don’t start!
Stanislav’s voice picks up on Alexei’s mic.
Ivan Stanislav: Alexei Gregorovich, what is this?
Ruslan grins proudly.
Alexei Ruslan: Myself and our comrades wanted to have thank you for you, Praporshchik, for your stellar and yet unsurprising success in PRIME. Why, what has Ivan Stanislav done thus far?
Ivan places his hands on his hips and cocks his head to the side.
Alexei Ruslan: This man, my friend, has an undefeated record here in PRIME! This man has already battled for the Universal Title on one occasion.
Nick Stuart: If he’s so undefeated, why isn’t he the champion?
Richard Parker: Nick, let’s not try to piss off the Russians. Remember what happened to you last year?
Alexei Ruslan: He is ranked third. THIRD, in PRIME! He is undefeated in PWA matches! He is, by all rights, the HOW World Champion! And now, our friend and leader has yet another shot at the Universal Championship. So, Ivan, we would like to give you the floor, but first, we wish to sing to you a rousing rendition of that old Russian folk song: “For He’s a Jolly Good Comrade!”
Nick Stuart: Oh God…
Ivan beams and grips his suspenders while Alexei produces a pitch pipe. Ruslan blows his note and motions to the Masters. Randall Schwartz pulls a tiny Russian and Soviet flag from the podium and waves them and Freeman pulls out a crimson sparkler and raises it overhead for the crowd to see.
For he’s a jolly good comrade!
For he’s a jolly good comrade!
For he’s a jolly good cooooomraaaaade!!!!
Ruslan cuts everyone off with a closing of his fist for dramatic effect, and then begins again.
Which nobody can deny!
Which nobody can deny!
Which nobody can deny!
For he’s a jolly good coooooooomraaaaaade!
Which nobody can deeeeeeeeennnnnyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!
Ruslan opens both of his arms and hits a shockingly high note, and then cuts off himself and the Masters behind him. Stanislav feigns wiping a tear from his eye as he chuckles.
Nick Stuart: Give me a break!
Richard Parker: What? I like this!
Nick Stuart: Will you be serious!?
Ruslan finally speaks once more, his voice nearly drowned out by the anger of the crowd.
Alexei Ruslan: Comrade Stanislav! Speech!! Speech!!!!
He looks to Schwartz, who quickly yells out “speech” and then Freeman, who snaps back to attention and drapes a Russian banner over the front of the podium. Stanislav is all too happy to take the microphone and stand behind the podium, flanked by the Masters behind and with Ruslan to his side. Surrounded by sycophants, Stanislav can do nothing more than grin proudly for a good thirty seconds, basking in the vitriol of the crowd. . Finally, perhaps even mercifully, he speaks.
Ivan Stanislav: My, my, my is this pleasant surprise! Thank you, my fellow comrades in arms. And thank you, Lindsay Troy and all of PRIME for this wonderful, feel-good moment on PRIME programming. It truly warms my large heart. DYAAHAAHAA!!
Feedback screeches through the arena and most people have to cover their ears as the sound system labors under Stanislav’s overwhelming bellow.
Ivan Stanislav: You know, after Culture Shock I told Lindsay Troy that I wanted to “have some fun.” In having a bit of fun, I not only vanquished the majority of the “heroes” in PRIME, but also nonchalantly earned Universal title shot. I know that each and every one of you foolish counter-revolutionaries thought that I would lose the Turmoil match, did you not? You thought that perhaps Jared Sykes, with his precious forklift, would win?
A pop from the crowd.
Ivan Stanislav: What did he get? Less teeth in his mouth and his fiance got one hell of a facelift!! DYAAHAAHAA!!
The crowd, once again, boos. The Red Army laughs.
Ivan Stanislav: Or Nate Colton and his years of familial experience and pie in the sky attitude?
The crowd rubber-bands and cheers.
Ivan Stanislav: Of course, Sykes brained him “accidentally” and then Colton cried like newborn baby after I stomped him into oblivion! Why, after I beat his carcass at PWA-02, he hasn’t shown his face other than to go lose in wrestling ring!
The crowd, once more, displays their derision. Ruslan laughs and feigns a fainting spell at how upset they are, leaning against the podium for dramatic effect.
Ivan Stanislav: And the Event Horizon, eh? How many times we have to see that sun set? How many times before you all realize he is NOTHING compared to the collective might of The Red Army? I have been beating that whipping boy for almost an entire year straight, from pillar to post, and you fools continue to cheer him!
Stanislav spreads his arms wide.
Ivan Stanislav: Your three would-be heroes did nothing but let you down, as they always will. They are charlatans who cannot deliver you the happiness you so crave. Why, in your desperation, you probably even hoped that Cancer Jiles or Paxton Ray would vanquish The Russian Bear, right?
No pop for them. Stanislav frowns.
Ivan Stanislav: Yet they all lay battered, broken, and shattered beneath my boots, do they not? Yes, dear people of PRIME, your heroes tried. And yes, PRIME, once again they failed.
Stanislav points at the hard cam.
Ivan Stanislav: But PRIME, you run thin on heroes, do you not? After all, Nova was crushed in the past and left on stretcher? Coral Avalon too stood before me, and all you could do is try to cobble together some pathetic excuse to justify his loss.
Ivan waggles a huge finger and grins crookedly.
Ivan Stanislav: But, PRIME, there is one hero who seems to have ducked and dodged admirably throughout this entire campaign. Yes, one “man” who, despite appearing to always be on the front line, has never had the yaichki to formally get in the ring and try to stop me. I speak of the foul-mouthed Pretender-Champion! The “Suplex Daddy!”
Alexei Ruslan breaks into a laughing fit, grabbing his stomach as he guffaws.
Ivan Stanislav: The Diamond of ReVival! The “Concience of PRIME.” Mr. Fuck Around and Find Out!!
Ruslan is doubled over now, laughing. His voice is intermittently audible as he pleads with Ivan.
Alexei Ruslan: Prap— please– is…. –unny!!
Ivan Stanislav: Brandon Youngblood!!
The crowd explodes for The Tower of Babel. Stanislav should have known it was coming, but it seems to frustrate him. Ruslan’s laughing fit comes to an abrupt stop as he scowls and shakes his head.
Ivan Stanislav: It does not matter how many nicknames one has to prop up their insecure psyche, the end will be the same! Hitch your hopes on this potential hero, if you wish! I will even be merciful! Brandon Youngblood! I give you some breathing room! Surrender Universal Title to me now, and save yourself beating later. Or, should you have to defend title before UltraViolence, take the exit ramp given and surrender it to someone else, coward! Because at UltraViolence, whoever is stupid enough to tremble in my shadow will learn that the fun and the games are OVER!
Ivan shakes his head, continuing his protracted proclamation.
Ivan Stanislav: But no, despite Alexei’s attempt to make this moment all about me, there are others in The Red Army who have been successful. Yes, The Red Army is on a roll everywhere! Not just in PRIME! Comrade Freeman is racking up wins in PRIME and The Masters of the Moscowverse are dominating the luke-warm, yellow-bellied feeder-federation “talent” in HOW.
Stanislav looks over his shoulder and Freeman and motions for him to stand next to the massive Russian. He clasps an enormous hand around Freeman’s shoulder.
Ivan Stanislav: And tonight, Comrade Kenny will continue to win! For there is no excuse for failure. Retreat backwards requires more bravery than ever continuing advancement in The Red Army!!
There’s just a subtle squeeze on Kenny’s shoulder. He squirms.
Ivan Stanislav: And so, I wish you all to celebrate this night and enjoy the upcoming match! Vince Howard, you need not announce Comrade Freeman. For I shall! But first, Comrade Schwartz, remove the podium from the ring!
Stanislav then releases Freeman and turns to Ruslan, with true happiness in his eyes. He hugs his longtime friend and then releases him.
Nick Stuart: If this is what we’ll be subjected to every ReVival if Ivan becomes Universal Champion… I just don’t know.
Ruslan barks at Randall to move the podium while Stanislav makes no attempt to help.
Nick Stuart: I think that podium is taller and heavier than Randall Schwartz. I don’t think he can move that on his own.
Ruslan simply stands and watches Randall. Stanislav stares at Kenny to tell him not to move. Randall just looks at Stanislav for a second, and then at Kenny before sighing to himself as he struggles, barely managing to get the podium back onto the dolly without nearly tearing a hole in the ring canvas. He does his best to get the dolly under the bottom rope…only to dump the dolly clear out of the ring to the floor outside!
Nick Stuart: Oh no!
Richard Parker: Pretty sure this might count as property damage, and that could be an issue for the Masters if they aren’t careful.
This giant podium is also a sturdy one, however, not breaking after the fall…much to the relief of Randall, who strains as he lifts the dolly back up before rolling it up the entrance ramp.
Nick Stuart: Oh, thank goodness.
Richard Parker: Nah, shame really…was hoping to see a yeeting tonight.