HAYES HANLON vs. CECILWORTH FARTHINGTON
Distorted guitar heralds a black hole emerging on the PRIME*View, dangerously close to the screen; hanging in the void among planets and nebulas.
Sirens accompany as the screen shakes, pulling us in violently, until the lyrics scream throughout the PA system.
“WHEN MY BACK’S TO THE WAAALLLL!!!”
And huge, white block letters fill the screen:
The speakers and amplifiers hold on for dear life as “Daggers” by We Came as Romans absolutely bludgeon the eardrums. And speaking of explosions, those planets and stars on the PRIME*View do just that, bursting into blinding eruptions of violent light. It carries into the arena, rumbling flashbulbs explode in various points throughout the building; in the ceiling, in the stands, one after another.
And then, from the ramp, The Event Horizon. He marches forward, those dark eyes focused, ‘stache on point. The eruption of lights and noise makes the building feel like a mosh pit. If the fans are booing, you’d never know.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, the following is a QUARTERFINAL MATCH for the Almasy! Introducing first – FROM WEST LINN, OREGON! STANDING SIX FEET, THREE INCHES AND WEIGHING IN AT TWO-HUNDRED AND SIXTY FIVE POUNDS!!
Hayes climbs the apron, steps through the ropes, and b-lines for the turnbuckle.
Vince Howard: The Event Horizoonnnnnnn…HAAAAAYESSSS!! HAAANNNLLOOOONNNNN!!!
Up one rope, then the second, chest and jaw jutting out, and a thumb across his neck.
“DRAW! THE! DAGGER!
CUT OUT THE PAIN! TO FIND THE POWER!”
He hops down, making way to the next post to repeat the process one more time.
“DRAW! THE! DAGGER!
CUT OUT THE PAIN!”
He remains on the ropes, and in timing with the song, beats his chest four times while roaring out the crescendo.
The Comeback Kid stays for a moment, eyes scanning the arena, allowing the music to reach its breakdown. He hops to the mat and takes his place in his corner, ready to go.
Nick Stuart: VERY interesting dynamics at play in this matchup, partner!
Richard Parker: Do these friggin Glue guys even LIKE each other?? I genuinely don’t understand their deal. Every time we see them together, someone’s failing at something and FLAMBO’s server reboots, and yet, these guys are some of the top stars in all of PRIME. What a world!
Nick Stuart: Indeed – Hayes Hanlon is a recent convert to the world of Glue production, and he faces the man many consider to be the face of the Glueminati, The Financier, Cecilworth Farthington. He is the Five Star Champion, he is unbeaten, and he is perhaps the finest technical wrestler of his generation. The target is on his back in this tournament – a win over The Financier earns you a shot at his title!
The arena slowly begins to darken, as the opening moments of “Choke” by I Don’t Know How But They Found Me begin to slowly reverberate. As the riff reaches its peak, the whole crowd is awakened with bright lights shining down upon them as out from backstage steps Lord Cecilworth Farthington.
Vince Howard: And his opponent – FROM BUCKINGHAMSHIRE, ENGLAND! STANDING SIX FEET AND WEIGHTING ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY SEVEN POUNDS…HE IS THE REIGNING PRIME FIIIIIIIIVE STAAAAAAR CHAMPION…The Financierrrrrr…CECILWOOOOOOOOOORTH FAAAAAAAARTHINGTOOOOOOOOON!
The camera quickly zooms into the self-assured smile that’s cracked upon the face of The Financier as he swaggers down to the right, both arms inserted into the pockets of a plain black hoodie. The jovial face of Farthington doesn’t entirely match his purposeful march to the ring, his shoulders swaying to the tune of “Choke”.
Nick Stuart: Looking at Cecilworth now, you wouldn’t know that he just faced serious peril in the last round of the Almasy. Maybe putting on a strong front?
Richard Parker: Hayes Hanlon is a two-time Universal Champion and his mustache can cut glass – you don’t want to show that man weakness. Make no mistake, Cecilworth can’t be 100% right now, but he’s going to treat this like any other match.
Nick Stuart: Which is WILD when you think about it – are these guys going to be on the same page? Will they take it easy on each other? Do they trust each other? I guess we’ll find out!
Farthington’s hands never leave the pockets as he slowly rolls under the bottom rope and leaps up into the ring. He slowly raises his left arm up into the sky and gives the crowd a cheeky little wave as he takes his place resting against the ring corner.
Nick Stuart: The Glue Boiz explode!
Farthington is cagey from the off, not looking to engage too quickly. He wants to measure the intentions of the man standing across from him.
Hanlon, for his part, looks ready for a fight and he’s moving with more purpose. He goes for a quick collar-and-elbow that Farthington ducks away from with a backpedal and a grin. Farthington raises his arms to mimic as if he was ready to lock up this time, Hanlon launches forward again – Farthington again slips away.
Nick Stuart: A bit of cat and mouse from the Financier?
Richard Parker: You know, I’ve been thinking about it and it’s crazy – the two champions out of all those Glue maniacs are two of the skinniest guys on the entire roster. Hanlon brings a lot of power that they didn’t really have from their singles stars.
Hanlon and Farthington motion to lock up, Cecilworth ducks a third time –
Hanlon anticipates the duck and throws a flashy right hand! Another! He’s got Farthington backed into the ropes! Hanlon gains wrist control and hurls Farthington across the ring and looks to time another huge strike – Farthington hangs onto those opposing ropes for a beat, messing with Hanlon’s timing! After a swing and a miss from Home Run Hayes, Cecilworth launches forward and crushes Hanlon’s abdomen with a big knee!
Hanlon doubles over. Farthington wastes little time and with a step and a twist, he drops Hanlon entirely with a spinning toe hold. He reaches forward and tries to go for an early Tarp, but before he can get it locked in, Hanlon grabs Cecilworth’s arms and with a great heave he pries them apart. The two roll around a bit looking to gain a dominant position – it’s Hanlon who succeeds and throws big looping rights and lefts into Cecilworth’s face while mounted on his ribcage.
Fortunately for the Financier, all that rolling around ended up positioning the pair near the ropes. Farthington reaches out and grabs the nearest bottom rope, which forces Hanlon to break. Hanlon does so without protest, takes a few steps back towards the center of the ring, and locks eyes on Farthington, bent at the waist with his hands extended, ready to go for another scrap. Farthington has chosen to tangle himself in the ropes a bit as he looks up from the seat of his ass at this Mustache he’s supposedly aligned with.
Maybe it was a mistake to tell this guy about Glueconomics. Maybe he’s been using Cecilworth this whole time, taking secret notes he wouldn’t have access to before, all for some edge for a huge moment like this. There’s a bounty on the line, after all.
Oh God. He’s really coming for you, Cecilworth, isn’t he?
Nick Stuart: Farthington is unbeaten here in PRIME, but looking at him now and hearing how he talks about himself, you wouldn’t know it, would you?
Richard Parker: Look, the guy’s neck is held together with chewing gum and Hank’s prayer candles back at Farthington Manor, ok? There are all these rumblings about how he and FLAMBERGE don’t really get along, about how they’re always trying to one-up each other – well, what happens when the new guy comes in and beats you while the other guy has a date with Ivan Stanislav for the top prize in all of professional wrestling?
Nick Stuart: It’s a complicated situation to be sure, and you have to wonder if he’s learned anything from seeing what happened to Phil Atken when it comes to injuries.
Richard Parker: You mean “assault by a crumb and a KFC Famous Bowl Specialist”, right?
Nick Stuart: …sure.
The murmur in the crowd is really unique – as a rule, the PRIMEates don’t care for either of these gentlemen at the moment, but when there’s a real dream match situation, sometimes you can’t help but be up for it.
Referee Ashley Barlow instructs Farthington to re-engage. Hanlon lets Farthington re-enter the ring while maintaining the fighting stance. This sort of “good sportsmanship because I think I can take you” attitude is just the kind of thing that can set Cecilworth off, and it does here –
Five across the mustachioed face! Cecilworth slaps him again and again, repeatedly, turning more into palm strikes and kniving chops as he presses forward. Hanlon is caught off guard and backs up, and then grabs Cecilworth around the waist and begins charging forward towards a ring corner. Cecilworth slips out of the grip, reverses, and with a neat little technical maneuver he finds himself behind Hanlon, sending him to the ground by controlling a wrist with one hand and pressing the shoulder with the other.
Farthington reaches and twists and pulls at the arm, looking for a full arm bar situation. Hanlon continues summoning his strength to prevent it, but it’s getting tougher to manage. Hanlon spins on the ground and thrusts his legs, launching Farthington off of him. They both scramble to their feet, Farthington swings again for the head and Hanlon ducks! He grabs Farthington, HOISTS, and PIVOTS!
Nick Stuart: BIG spinebuster from Hanlon! Here’s the cover!
Hanlon gets up with a start, bends, and LEAPS with tremendous vigor! Jumping leg drop onto Farthington’s shoulder blades! He flips him over for another cover!
Hanlon takes a second to catch his breath, knowing he has a very delicate advantage. He goes to lift Farthington by the head, looking for a big DDT – Farthington drops to a knee! He’s deadweighting Hanlon! The Event Horizon looks to use his power to bypass this weird bullshit from Cecilworth – only for Cecilworth to spring to life! While being head locked, he takes a step back, then launches up with some momentum, twisting and wrapping around the back of Hanlon’s body, violently clutching at some bodily purchase – until he’s got it locked in!
Nick Stuart: OCTOPUS STRETCH! Octopus Stretch on Hanlon! Will Hanlon tap out?
Richard Parker: Eugh, something about the way Farthington locks in the Octopus, it gives me the jimmies, partner. It’s gnarly looking!
Ashley Barlow checks on Hammerin’ Hanlon, who insists he’s ok, though he’s now carrying the entire weight of a brilliant technician who is using his neck and body like playground equipment.
Farthington wrenches harder, which causes Hanlon to wince in pain – but he’s got this. He steadies himself, holds his arm out, and with a graceful hoist, he dislodges Farthington from his neck region and positions him in a Fireman’s Carry! Hanlon yells out to the crowd, fired the fuck up at his feat of strength and skill, before eeeeever so slowly tilting, tiltinggggggggggg
Nick Parker: HUGE stalling Samoan Drop! Here’s another cover, Hanlon’s advancing here!
Both men are quick to get up, and the intensity has decidedly ratcheted up.
Hanlon continues swinging for big heavy power moves, Farthington continues peppering Hanlon with shots when there’s an opening and, failing that, continues angling for holds at every turn. Both men know it’s going to take something big to take this one, and on the flip side, all it takes is one wrong move and the Almasy dream dies.
Richard Parker: I guess we can stop wondering if these two were gonna play nice in this one!
Nick Stuart: Hanlon’s certainly been an aggressor from the very beginning. Farthington hasn’t gone full maniac yet, but he HAS to be annoyed that he’s still on the back foot in this particular match, given his opponent, the stakes, the tournament, his neck – all of it!
Finally, Farthington finds a way to halt the nonstop war machine that is Hayes Hanlon – a blunt palm strike to the side of Hanlon’s nose that would make anyone’s eyes immediately water. Hanlon stumbles, holding his nose and checking for blood. None yet –
A vicious kick to the breadbasket by Farthington drops Hanlon! Seizing the opportunity, Farthington measures his opponent and charges with a vicious elbow smash to the back of Hanlon’s head!
Nick Parker: MALICE IN WONDERLAND! Cecilworth – locking both shoulders here for good measure, here’s a Crucifix pin, high stack!
Frustrated, Farthington lifts the groggy body of Hanlon and chucks him towards the ropes, sending him rolling under the bottom to the outside. Ashley Barlow is not super psyched about this course of action (as she is wont to be) and admonishes Farthington, instructing him to “bring it back in the ring”.
Cecilworth Farthington: No. Well, actually, just…give me a minute. If you would count slower that would be just aces, really.
Nick Stuart: That’s not gonna work on Ashley Barlow, is it?
Ron Howard voice: “It’s not.” She begins the ten count immediately and doesn’t seem to be giving much leniency to it. Farthington, perturbed at this, hops outside the ring just a hair faster than he might have preferred thank you very much, technical wrestling takes measurement and hasty measurement means mistakes ASHLEY, but it’s fine. Cecilworth will just have to go less technical than he may have originally planned.
Hanlon is still dazed. Farthington grabs him and launches –
DIRECTLY into the ring steps! Farthington stalks his prey, picks him up a second time, launches in a new direction –
Hanlon WIPES OUT as he’s slammed into the ringside barricade! Farthington takes a breather and looks over to that spoilsport Ashley Barlow for a status count of the…count.
Ashley Barlow: FIVE! …..SIX!
Ope, no time to waste, better just –
sprint forward and CRUSH Hanlon’s sternum with a running penalty kick!
Nick Stuart: Hanlon’s in a bad way out there!
Richard Parker: Maybe it was one of those therapeutic kicks!
Nick Stuart: …
Richard Parker: …
Ashley Barlow: SEVEN!
Farthington understands the rules of professional wrestling quite thoroughly, thank you very much, and he is aware that one potential victory condition is known as the “Count Out”, and wouldn’t you know it, he’s in a great position to accomplish this feat! He looks down at Hanlon one more time, laments at the haste in Ashley Barlow’s relatively speedy count that’s preventing even more devastation outside the ring, and rolls under the bottom rope back into the ring.
Hammerin’ Hanlon STIRS!
Nick Stuart: Hanlon’s down, he’s hurting, he’s got a red mark in the shape of a boot tip on his chest, but damn it, he’s not out!
Ashley Barlow: EIGHT!
And then Hanlon said “fuck your nine point nine-nines”, springing to life!
A surge of energy washes across his face! He gets to his feet and charges into the ring, sliding under the bottom rope! Farthington wasn’t expecting this speedy of a response and so he misses with another Penalty Kick – HANLON WITH A SPEAR! CECILWORTH IS DOWN! HANLON RAINS DOWN SHOTS! It’s pandemonium in Nashville!
Farthington covers his head and his precarious neck with his arms, finally snapping them together like a bear trap around Hanlon’s left arm as it comes swinging in for a would-be hammer shot! Even while on his back, he wrenches at Hanlon’s wrist, looking for some sort of desperation win – but Hanlon won’t quit!
Hanlon uses his free hand to bash down, a clubbing hammer fighting off the vice-like grip of the Best Boy! Farthington rolls to his stomach, now looking for an escape – Hanlon doesn’t allow it, staying on top and wrapping his arms around Farthington’s waist while bent over – and then~~
Nick Stuart: WHOA!!
Hayes Hanlon takes the prone, face-down body of Farthington and with the power of one of the thiccest rumps in wrestling today he powers Farthington up, a 270 degree deadlift German Suplex that ROCKS the Englishman! Hayes bridges for the cover!
THREENOOOOOOO! Farthington BARELY gets the shoulder up!
Nick Stuart: Hayes Hanlon has wrestled nearly a perfect match tonight, partner!
Richard Parker: No doubt, he’s taken some heavy shots from our Five Star Champion, even some really precarious submission moves – the kid wants this win, badly.
Nick Stuart: He’s certainly knocking on the doorstep here – let’s be clear, it’s never an upset when Hayes Hanlon wins a match, but there’s no doubt that walking into the Glueminati (or the Glue Factory, or the Glue Live Crew, or WHATEVER it is they’re calling themselves now) and immediately scoring a win over the man who fancies himself to be the group’s leader? Earning a shot at that same man’s championship? THAT’S a statement.
What proceeds is much ragdolling. Hayes Hanlon is quite intense about making that statement Nick Stuart helpfully pointed out on commentary, you see, and he is in the process of learning that often times, to be a Threshing Machine, you have to fuck a guy up a lot more than you thought you did.
More German Suplexes. A powerbomb. A second powerbomb. A Death Valley Driver. Farthington eats all of them. It’s a concern.
Richard Parker: Oh lord, he’s gotta be done. That neck was a cracked eggshell before, you don’t make it past that sequence.
Hanlon goes for a cover after the Death Valley Driver!
Hanlon looks around at the crowd, finally clocking that people are watching this fight for dominance. They’re…on their feet? No, they hate him now, why would they do that?
Maybe some lingering hope that he’s a mole, or something. Maybe Hayes Hanlon didn’t really join team Glue, maybe he’s still one of the good guys – yeah, I’m sure that’s it, son. Look at him fighting Cecilworth, he’s not holding back at all – maybe we don’t have to throw away the Event Horizon tee we bought after he won his second Univ-There they are. The double birds to the crowd.
Hayes Hanlon doesn’t want you along for this ride. This is a one-man trip that he alone controls. Fuck his past, Brandon Youngblood, the Glueminati, all his past championship reigns – he’s here to prove that he’s the goddamn best. Not Farthington, not FLAMBERGE – him. It’s usually true, some fans think, even when he comes up short.
That dump truck contains a lot of credibility.
Without a second thought (well, maybe the double deuce was the second thought – without a third thought, how’s that?), Hanlon pulls the unsteady Farthington upright. Cecilworth, to his credit, punches at something he thinks might have a mustache.
It’s air. Air doesn’t have mustaches.
Stumbling after his missed effort, Hanlon positions himself perfectly to pop Cecilworth up by his throat…
Spin 180 degrees…
Nick Stuart: THE EVENT HORIZON HAS JUST! HIT! THE EPOCH! ON CECILWORTH FARTHINGTON!
Richard Parker: What a result! I can’t believe it!
Nick Stuart: Hayes Hanlon goes for the cov-wait a minute! He’s not…he’s not going for the pin?
Indeed, Hanlon has positioned himself above Farthington, but he’s not pressing his opponent’s shoulders to the mat.
Instead, he’s trying something.
There’s a lesson to be learned from FLAMBERGE, after all – you focus your energy on collecting necks, and success follows you at every turn. Maybe there’s something to that.
Cecilworth’s undefeated neck is basically a first-edition holofoil, after all. Even with all the edge damage Youngblood did to it last round, the undefeated neck is a One Of One. If anything, the damage is half the point of the valuation. Proof of lineage.
Easier than having it graded.
So why shouldn’t Hayes Hanlon start his collection with a bang?
Why shouldn’t he just…move that arm there, and…that shoulder there, position the neck thusly, and..
…PRESS DAT NECK WITH YO’ KNEEEEEEEEEE
Nick Stuart: OH MY WORD! HAYES HANLON IS GOING FOR A NORTHWEST NECKTIE!
Richard Parker: A submission hold?! Where on earth – HOW WHAT on earth??
Hanlon’s putting everything he knows about submission wrestling into this choke, his own version of a Tequila Sunrise, with Farthington’s leg high above him and scorpioned out.
…but there’s a problem.
You don’t out-tekker Cecilworth Farthington.
To be clear, this Northwest Necktie looks like Stretchy Murder Death to the layman in the crowd – and this move probably submits the vast majority of the PRIME roster. Maybe even Youngblood.
And Farthington isn’t having what you could call a “good” time while caught in this hold – he’s just been around the Neck Collector a bit longer than Hanlon has. And at the end of the day, Cecilworth Farthington is a survivalist. A barnacle, a really wretched bramble that you just can’t ever seem to shake.
He’s one of the only people in the world who could know – truly know – that Hanlon doesn’t have the hold locked in optimally.
There’s a gap there that a writhe, skinny little bastard like Cecilworth Farthington can juuuuuuuuuust find a way through, if he can just. Take a deep breath.
Gulp, shrink the neck.
Move quickly, there’s only one shot at this…PUSH, ROLL…
…CECILWORTH ESCAPES THE NORTHWEST NECKTIE! Ferociously, the animalism that usually hides deep beneath the lordly veneer of Farthington lashes out and bares its fangs – he wills his body around Hayes Hanlon, who only now realizes he’s lost his grip –
Nick Stuart: OH NO! CECILWORTH FARTHINGTON HAS TRAPPED HANLON IN THE TARP!
Hayes Hanlon is many things, and one of those things is “forward thinking”. He realizes he made that damn one mistake, and it’s either tap now, or get seriously debilitated when this man goes full apeshit and tap out later with fewer working limbs.
He makes the gut wrenching choice.
Richard Parker: THAT’S IT! HANLON’S TAPPING!
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: Your winner as a result of a submission, and advancing to the semifinals of the Almasy Classic…CECILWOOOOOOOORTH FAAAAAAAAAARTHINGTOOOOOOOOON!
“Choke” by I Don’t Know How But They Found Me blares throughout the arena. Farthington collapses after the bell is rung. He’s breathing heavily and does not seem well. Ashley Barlow leans over and raises one of his limp arms in “triumph”.
Nick Stuart: It’s clear that Cecilworth Farthington only had one last bullet in his chamber tonight, and VERY fortunately for him, it came through in the end.
Richard Parker: You know what? Hell of a freaking match from Hayes Hanlon. He beats every other member of the PRIME roster tonight with that effort. Hell, if you run this match back ten times, Hanlon may take more than five of them! That Farthington, though. Man. He’s never out of it, is he?
Nick Stuart: He’s certainly not out of this tournament! The Five Star Champion remains unbeaten in PRIME, and he stakes his claim within the hierarchy of team Glue. I wish we could be a fly on the wall for THAT conversation, eh partner?
Richard Parker: I can’t wait for Hanlon to tear Cardsworth a new one.
Nick Stuart: And now, we take you to…wait, “Drawn Weiners”? That can’t be right.
Richard Parker: …got your ass, partner.
We hear Nick Stuart sigh loudly as Cecilworth and Hanlon both make their way to the back. Both look worse for wear, both can’t seem to read the other man’s expression. And they don’t walk up the ramp shoulder-to-shoulder. The boys need some space to process after that one. Got dicey there.
And now, THIS!