The camera frames our announce duo, front and center, while some PRIMEates behind them try to get in the shot and make fools of themselves. Richard turns and begins a spat with them while Nick focuses on the job on hand.
Nick Stuart: Folks, what an evening it has been so far here in San Antonio on what has, essentially, been Night Zero of Culture Shock. And speaking of our next major event, we’re going to take you to some footage captured earlier this week in the Dallas/Fort Worth area at an event to promote Culture Shock.
The shot goes black, then opens on a crowd of patrons seated at tables surrounding a small stage in an outdoor amphitheatre of sorts. Zooming in on the stage, we see Angelica Brooks seated at the center of a large glass tabletop. Flanking either side of her are The Tower of Babel, Brandon Youngblood and The Inhuman Being, Matt Ward.
Angelica Brooks: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Legacy Hall here in north Dallas, just 30 minutes up the road from AT&T Stadium, which will play host to Culture Shock on April 7th & 8th. Joining me now for a live face-to-face are the participants of the highly anticipated bout that will kick-off Night 1. Between them, they hold 8 PRIME singles championships, including 4 Universal Championships. They have multiple major tournament victories, multiple Final Four Dual Halo finishes… they are both Hall of Famers… Dallas, TX… please welcome Brandon Youngblood and Matt Ward
Angelica Brooks: Gentlemen, thank you for joining us here this evening to help promote Culture Shock. Matt, I’d like to start with you. At Colossus, you returned to PRIME, stepping between the ropes for the first time in nearly ten years. And from the moment you returned, truthfully, even in the teasers before your arrived on Night 2, you seemed to place a target squarely on the back of The Tower of Babel. Why?
Tchu adjusts the collar of his lavender button-up, centering the attached small black microphone. He stares a hole through his opponent, letting the silence fill with the buzz of the crowd. Finally, he turns his gaze to Angelica and answers.
Matt Ward: First of all Angelica, lets be clear… I didn’t stick anything on anyone’s back. That’s the coward’s way. From the get-go, I’ve been up front in all of this. I didn’t place the target on Brandon’s back, I stuck it right between his eyes.
The Inhuman Being points a finger across the small table, drawing the ire of The Ace of the ReVival.
Matt Ward: As to why? I said it a few weeks ago… when Brandon ran roughshod over the relaunch of PRIME, he came for my crown. He mimicked my path to the top…
The very notion has the Ace of the ReVival incredulous.
Brandon Youngblood: Excuse me? ‘Mimicked’? Mimicked your path to the top?
Matt Ward: Like a chapter out of my autobiography.
Brandon Youngblood: Horseshit.
Angelica Brooks: Maybe along these lines, Brandon, at ReV 23, you mentioned that you felt Ward’s reign of dominance was “yours”…
The glower from the Diamond is palpable.
Brandon Youngblood: When I came back to…this…I made it clear this time…this time would be different. Direct. Honest. We’re out here tit for tatting, one guy looking down his nose talking about the other, the joust…and we can do that. We can go in those circles. A big part of me sits here, today, thinking back to that time, to that well of anger, to the pit eating through my gut…
Unlike Ward, Brandon’s attire is far more utilitarian; a muscle tee featuring his diamond symbol emblazoned in PRIME blue across the chest. His arms are heavy as they fold, covering the Diamond’s logo, his back easing into his seat.
Brandon Youngblood: And I want to say he took my spot. Used my moves. Used everything I was building as I was on the cusp of the Universal Championship…and I want to look at him in the eye here…now…and tell him…tell Matt Ward…that the only reason he got what he got was because Hin See and Taun Pham thought they’d have a better shot controlling him than they did me. That they knew, give this guy a break…and he’ll kick the door right open. Imitation. That I watched that guy come from absolutely nowhere and cut his path through PRIME…that I saw him punch it in the end zone when I fumbled…that in a few months, he not only became Universal Champion, but he’d go on and carry that all the way to the Hall of Fame…onto Mount Rushmore…
Tchu cuts him off.
Matt Ward: Front and center.
There is little pause from his opponent.
Brandon Youngblood: Just like the challenge you dropped in your hype videos. Pointed the barrel right between my damn eyes. Unavoidable. Make no mistake…before you even drew from your holster, I had my six shooter on your ribs. Ward…damn near two-decades. That’s how long I’ve waited for this.
With each of his last few words, Youngblood leans in a bit further, closing the distance with his fellow Hall of Famer.
Angelica Brooks: So for the two of you, this is just a mirror match? Dealing with the reflection of someone else you feel is the lesser? The imitator?
The Tower of Babel’s smile is wry.
Brandon Youngblood: No. Not from me. Because all that is what I thought. And I say it because I know when you get to a certain place in PRIME…when the words come from another who has been at the absolute pinnacle of this sport…only a handful of us around…so it means something when we strike. Fists. Or words.
The Wrecking Ball chuckles, shaking his head.
Matt Ward: That’s rich. Coming from someone who wanted to go there, someone who made his living and image cutting down others, now you’re trying to walk it back? Because this whole time, all I hear is you trying to pull a Vickie Hall and patent suplexes, spinebusters, double leg takedowns and say you set the trend for smash mouth wrestling. Like you owned it. I’m no young buck. I’ve been busting skulls and breaking bones since the late 90s.
Brandon Youngblood: Yeah and you walked in the door with you here–
One hand is raised high above his head, the other not visible as it hangs below the table.
Brandon Youngblood: Me there. Three Universal Titles to three 5 Star Titles. Talking the midcard bullshit like you’re Zeus on Mount Olympus. Like you got the nuts to pull that card on me. Got one jackass already doing that bit. Worked out well every time he’s been in a ring with me.
Matt Ward: You think I’m Jiles?
Brandon Youngblood: No. He’s got two working knees.
The Inhuman Being bites his lip, clearing seething under his collar and trying to keep his cool
Matt Ward: He’s also got two more pay-per-view main events than you had, Wrestler of the Year.
A snarl rises from the intended target. The shot landed.
Brandon Youngblood: Is this what this is going to be? Throwing each other down the stairs, racing to the bottom?
Matt Ward: I made my career at the top. Got no time for the cellar. You might like it down there, though. Someplace nice and cold to calm down. You’re the one trying to stare a hole right through me with that mean face like my daughter makes when she has to go to bed and she doesn’t want to. Thinking that it’s going to get me shaking and believing the image you want the world to believe about you.
The finger jabbed in his direction is for emphasis.
Matt Ward: So, fine… let’s stop bullshitting each other. When I decided to return to the ring, it wasn’t to pose and wave as a part of PRIME’s legacy like some old sap hoping for flowers on his retirement tour. I’m not some gaudy false prophet trading on a legacy that I ended after I took the Universal Title from him. No, I wanted the toughest, the strongest, the best wrestler in the world today. And that’s you, Brandon.
Reflectively, the Inhuman Being cracks his knuckles.
Matt Ward: I’m not here to piss around. I could have targeted anyone to make the big statement. I could have gone after Stanislav. The message of The Orange would have been perfect for Nate Colton. Or a Hayes. I picked the biggest fight I could. Because doing so? It’s the biggest thing, the most important thing, to be done.
Not many can stare down the imposing form of Youngblood and remain level, calm. But Ward isn’t the many. He’s a singular force, not just here, but in the annals of PRIME.
Matt Ward: Because it has to matter, Brandon. To get to number four, and believe me… I want number four… I have to face maybe the greatest challenge I’ve ever faced. But not just that. I need to walk on up to the Tower of Babel and punch him in the mouth, put my boot to his throat, and show him, remind the masses, what it means to be the true standard of PRIME.
If the Inhuman Being is expecting his words to waver the man before him, then the intensity staring back at him would be demoralizing. But he knows better. Brandon chews on the sentiment, his eyes remaining glued on what is in front of him.
Brandon Youngblood: A lot’s changed since the old days, Matt. I’ve changed. I’m transparent. What you see is what you get. So when I say I want to say all those things…that you took the legacy I was building for yourself…truth is…you did more than I ever could have. Achieved more than I ever hoped. Lindsay is called the Final Boss of PRIME. Bullshit. Anyone who is anyone knows there’s only one person who has stepped in a PRIME ring who can lay true claim to that. You.
It’s Youngblood’s turn to point toward his opponent, to make the words sink in.
Brandon Youngblood: And I hated you for it. Part of me still does. There was always that imaginary line separating us. Opportunity. Time. And back then? You probably kick my ass. Put your boot to my throat. I took my shots for granted. Didn’t uphold my end of the promise. I didn’t become what I could’ve. But that’s where the change comes in. Because back then, I could look you in the eye and tell you I was going to beat you…but I wouldn’t believe it…not really…not truly.
The palm of his hand rests against the table top.
Brandon Youngblood: But I fought through myself. Worked to tear down what I was to become what I always should’ve been. That’s the toughest challenge I ever had to face. The man in the mirror. And I won that battle. And there you are. Everything I wanted to be in PRIME. The pinnacle. The absolute best.
His tone is remarkably drained of emotion.
Brandon Youngblood: So when I look you in your eye now, know…know…that I’m going to beat you. And it isn’t a front. It’s not an empty threat. Your spot on Rushmore? At Culture Shock…it becomes mine.
Within seconds, the affront gets its retaliation.
Matt Ward: A million years of winds or rains couldn’t erode my spot.
Brandon Youngblood: Then keep it. I’ll do what I should’ve done years ago and build a spot over top of it using your bones.
The tension is rising. Thankfully, the seasoned Angelica Brooks carries enough respect that she’s able to slice through it to keep things moving forward with another question.
Angelica Brooks: There’s an impressive amount of history here between two men who never really crossed paths. As you prepare for this massive one-on-one encounter that will open the biggest show since PRIME’s return… how do you balance that with Night Two and trying to find success in a massive battle royal? Brandon?
The Inhuman Being doesn’t give Youngblood the chance to respond.
Matt Ward: Ang… why don’t you direct that question to someone who’s actually won a major battle royal at Culture Shock rather than a runner up?
There’s a notable “Oooooooooooohhhhh” from the crowd in attendance. As if a call to war, The Tower of Babel pushes back his chair and jumps to his feet. Ward wastes no time in responding by jumping up himself. With his right hand, he shoves his chair away and it topples over the side of the stage, crashing into the grass below. For his part, Youngblood’s massive arm strikes out like lightning, his finger no longer a dagger, instead becoming a warhead.
Brandon Younglood: She’s asking someone who’s won a goddamn match in the last decade.
Now, Ward rips off his microphone and throws a couple of profanity laced sentences towards his opponent. It sounds something along the lines of “start a fuckin’ winning streak at your fuckin expense”, but only Angelica and Brandon are close enough to hear for sure.
Whatever it is, Youngblood doesn’t seem amused. He pushes around the corner of the table, getting right in Ward’s face. The words start to filter down to Youngblood’s mic, something akin to “just do it bitchmade monster man” and Angelica doesn’t hesitate, calling for production personnel to cut the Brandon’s mic.
Angelica Brooks: Gentlemen, please. Let’s try and get this back on the rails.
But there’s no use, the two Hall of Famers are, verbally, at each other’s throats and don’t hear a word that Angelica has pleaded. A half dozen security guards hop onto the stage and start to insert themselves between Youngblood and Ward. The crowd begins to boo as their hopes of seeing a sneak-peek of the big match are dashed by the swarm of security.
In the commotion, the glass table is knocked over and cracks, as Angelica jumps out of the way, a “Jesus!” audible from her live mic as the scene cuts to the backstage area.