HAYES HANLON vs. KING BLUEBERRY
Nick Stuart: Jacob Mephisto, chilling as ever. But now, we head to our main event, and even though this ought to be a sporting wrestling exhibition between two of the most popular and talented wrestlers on the roster.
Richard Parker: Normally, a match like this would make me sick, but given the circumstances with Jonathan Rhine, and the fact that the vibes have been off tonight, I’m actually looking forward to this.
Nick Stuart: Vibes? Have you been watching TikTok again?
Richard Parker: How else would I know how to make those grinders I brought during our production meeting working lunch yesterday?
The arena darkens.
We Came as Romans.
The music builds, and the crowd lifts. Those flickering flashbulbs leading us in. The good ol’ PRIME*View makes its journey toward the massive black hole in the distance, the screen shaking as it approaches closer and closer.
Vince Howard: Annnnnnnnd NOW! Your MAIN! E! VENT!
The music hits heavy, a wall of white light underneath the PRIME*View flashes hard, and the lightshow fills the arena. The broad silhouette of Home Run Hayes lifts his fingers to the sky before the music slows, and he steps out to bellowing audience.
Nick Stuart: And out walks the Comeback Kid!
Vince Howard: We’re scheduled for ONE FALL! Introducing first, from West Linn, Oregon! Your former Five Star Champion from West Linn, Oregon! Standing six feet, three-inches tall and weighing in at two-hundred and sixty-one pounds!! THE EVENT HORIZON…HAAAAYYYESSSS!!! HANNNLLLLOOOOONNNN!!!!!
“I FALL INTO A BLACK HOLE IN MY HEAD!!”
Hayes hits the ramp with the chorus, slapping his chest hard, where white letters spelling “F4J” sit on a black t-shirt. Hanlon is extra wound-up tonight, quickly sliding to the apron and stepping up the turnbuckle, but not before looking over to Cancer Jiles and blowing him a kiss. Cancer swats away the incoming kiss with a swift backhand.
Nick Stuart: Hayes Hanlon was given a tall task at UltraViolence, and he delivered! Our star rookie here managed to defeat the Russian Bear, Ivan Stanislav, in an incredible display of strength, connecting the Super Massive on a 400 pound goliath!
The camera feed cuts to a replay from UltraViolence. Ivan’s massive body lays across Hanlon’s back. It shows The Event Horizon’s struggle to step up to the second rope, and highlights the moment Hayes brought him to the mat with the Burning Hammer maneuver.
Nick Stuart: An enormous statement after suffering defeat to GREAT SCOTT at ReVival 15!
Richard Parker: A sad day for the Motherland to be sure, but an impressive moment in our sport, Nick!
The rookie leans back over the post, chest to the sky, as the chorus finishes its job. He hops to the mat, checks the ropes with a few bounces, and waits for his opponent to arrive, his music trailing off.
Vince Howard: And his opponent…
This isn’t your typical Berry entrance. There’s no elaborate bullshit. No smoke machines. The Jimmy Bonafide Dancers have been given the night off (not that they really ever work, but still). There’s just the music.
“Knock ‘Em Dead, Kid.” Motley Crue.
Even Vince Howard is surprised, since the information he was given about this introduction is devoid of the usual nonsense he’s forced to contend with when Berries are involved.
Vince Howard: From Boston, Massachusetts… He weighs in tonight at one-hundred and ninety-nine pounds…
Tonight, King Blueberry is a little lighter than usual. It’s not a new workout regimen or diet, just the stress of watching the career end for one of the closest friends he’s made in the industry. It’s why he wore a “Fighting For Jonathan” shirt when he appeared to start the show, and why he wears one now.
Vince Howard: He is one half of the PRIME World Tag-Team Champions…
He’s also alone, at least at first. The Blueberry is halfway to the ring by the time his partner appears at the curtain. And despite his own intensity, she doesn’t seem in any particular hurry to join him.
Vince Howard: KIIIIIIIIIIING BLLLLUUUUUUUUUEBERRRRRRYYYYYYY!!
Yeah, that’s right. We do those now.
The two wrestlers meet in the center of the ring, waiting for the bell to sound. Big cheers go up for the pensive-looking Jared Sykes. The crowd starts chanting “WE LOVE RHINE! WE LOVE RHINE!” Justine Calvin, though visibly not in the mood to give a hoot throughout her trek to the ring, is finally moved to an emotion other than “staring daggers at Jared Sykes” at the chant.
Richard Parker: Normally, I’d be all over this crowd for pandering, but I agree with the fans, Nick.
Nick Stuart: Yes, touching sentiment for Jon Rhine’s best friend here. A lot of emotion riding on this match.
And then…nothing. The Event Horizon and the Prince of Produce remain in their corners, eyes locked on one another. Despite the ringing of the bell, and the rumbling MGM Grand crowd. Despite Jiles watching close by. They stand still, not even studying each other. Just relaxed.
Nick Stuart: Folks, this main event match is underway, but neither opponent has made a move.
Richard Parker: Think they’ll kiss? Or cry it out in the middle of the ring?
Hayes looks over his left shoulder, then his right. His eyes flash down.
Then set on Jared Sykes.
And then, Home Run Hayes pulls his “F4J” t-shirt over his head, and extends it toward King Blueberry.
Nick Stuart: Now this is fascinating…Hayes Hanlon with an offering here…
Sykes eyes the black shirt in Hanlon’s hand for a moment, the Garden crowd rising at the display. He takes his time, taking his turn to peer left and right.
Then pulls his “Fighting For Jonathan” shirt off his torso, and reaches it over to his young opponent.
Nick Stuart: Now THIS is CLASS, folks!
The two take each other’s shirts enthusiastically, opening them up and lifting them overhead to the crowd to display their messages. The technicians in the back have caught up, an enormous “F4J” filling the PRIME*View.
Richard Parker: It sure is, partner. Well done, boys.
The raucous crowd continues to roar, Hayes and Sykes hand their shirts off to aides at ringside before turning back to the center of the ring, both marching in and meeting each other with a hearty high-five.
Richard Parker: Now let’s see a SHOW!
Nick Stuart: I should note that Blueberry said something to young Hayes there. Microphones couldn’t pick it up.
Richard Parker: I hate that I’m the voice of reason here because it means the world is probably about to end, but maybe it wasn’t meant to be picked up by mics? Besides, the match is starting.
The two wrestlers lock up strong in the collar-and-elbow tie-up, each one jockeying for leverage, but neither one finding it. They break after a ten-Mississippi count and regroup. Hanlon reaches in to go for another collar-and-elbow, but Sykes deftly ducks and slides behind the Event Horizon, wrapping him in a rear waistlock. He jostles for position with Hanlon throwing wild blind elbows that the King easily dodges. The disruption is enough for Hanlon to break the lock and slip behind Blueberry for a reversal. Using his weight to force past any inertia Sykes is providing, he hoists the Tag Champ in the air for a German or back suplex, but midair, Blueberry deftly transitions into an armdrag. Hanlon ends up on all fours, slamming his hands on the canvas, and he gets back up to his feet to shake out the cobwebs.
Nick Stuart: Hanlon has a decided size advantage here, but the King has been around the block several times. He may not look it, but he’s one of the most gifted wrestlers at using leverage and keeping moving parts working in sync.
Richard Parker: Especially when he’s operating a forklift!
Nick Stuart: Not sure I’d bring that up now, that seems like a distant memory with everything that’s happened, especially recently.
Hanlon moves in to grab Sykes with another collar-and-elbow tie-up, but it’s a rope-a-dope. Anticipating Sykes going for the end-around again, Hayes immediately smashes into his hands before they can clasp, then deftly turns around to throw a wicked lariat. Blueberry immediately recognizes it and ducks, transitioning into a crucifix. Hayes blocks it and drops the Tag Champ with a Samoan drop.
Nick Stuart: And that’s where young Hayes will get you. If he can catch you in the right spot, that power offense AND counteroffensive will put a hurting on a smaller competitor.
Sykes holds his back and rolls into the ropes as Calvin just looks on, shaking her head. Timo Bolamba gets in between Hanlon and the ropes, causing Hayes to throw his hands up in innocence.
Richard Parker: I don’t trust this Hanlon not to play it fair. You know he hangs out at the Velvet Rabbit?
Nick Stuart: That’s conjecture, and strip clubs or not, Hanlon doesn’t seem to have animosity towards Sykes and the feeling is mutual. Besides, Richard, don’t you go to the Velvet Rabbit, frequently?
Richard Parker: Don’t blow up my spot like that!
Jared gets up on the apron, lets out a huge sigh, and then gingerly steps through the ropes. Nothing is long-term hurt but his pride, but each bump he takes is magnified by his attention concentrated… elsewhere.
Nick Stuart: Blueberry is back in the ring, and we’re ready to start again!
Hanlon takes advantage of Blueberry’s momentary daze to lock up again, quickly wrenching the Tag Champ’s head within his grasp by his hip. Sykes uses all his force and probably some adrenaline too to shove Hanlon into the ropes. On the rebound, Blueberry whips the Event Horizon with an armdrag, and then a second one as Hayes quickly gets to his feet. He goes for a step-up hurricanrana as Hanlon gets onto one knee, but the Event Horizon gets his wits about him and shoves Sykes in the back of his thighs before he can close the window. The Tag Champ backflips and lands on his feet before shooting Hanlon a knowing but uneasy look of respect.
Nick Stuart: Quite refreshing to see such an athletic exhibition in the main event. Wrestling can be fun.
Richard Parker: Look, I disagree, even though I know they’re both fighting for Rhine here, I need my fix. Someone hit someone with a low blow or a weapon or an eye gouge. I’m dying over here!
Nick Stuart: We can always bring Cancer Jiles out from the crowd.
Richard Parker: On second thought…
Hanlon thinks about lunging in hastily again, but the young lion realizes it didn’t work the last time, so he backs into the corner to regroup. Blueberry shakes his head after momentarily thinking it over and charges in, hitting Hanlon with the “walk vertically up your chest” move while he’s in the corner. Hayes stumbles out, and Blueberry, after hesitating momentarily thinking about what move to hit him with, rolls him into a small package…
Hanlon kicks out almost immediately after Timo counts two.
Nick Stuart: This is a sporting contest, but I think King Blueberry knows he’s got to win this one.
Richard Parker: Hey, you don’t get paid by the hour, although judging by how long some of our pay-per-views have gone…
Nick Stuart: Hush.
Hanlon stumbles to his feet, with Blueberry sizing him up from the back. He leaps up on his opponent’s shoulders and again hesitates a little, as he’d be going for the poison rana here. Instead, he shifts his weight forward and attempts a victory roll…
Hanlon kicks out again shortly after Timo’s hand hits the mat a second time. Jared slams the mat with both his fists and pops up as Justine on the outside continues to look like she’d rather be anywhere else but at ringside.
Nick Stuart: Reina Raspberry looks like she’d rather be at the dentist’s office right now.
Richard Parker: Well, who can blame her? King Blueberry’s head’s not in the game right now! He’s clearly holding back.
Nick Stuart: Somehow, Richard, I don’t think that’s the reason she’s looking disinterested.
Sykes is quick to his feet while Hanlon’s equilibrium is shaken with the barrage of flip-overs he’s had to endure. The Tag Champ notices his opponent is doubled over and attempts a sunset flip. Hanlon blocks it, shakes out the cobwebs, and lands a big jumping legdrop across Sykes’ throat.
Nick Stuart: WHOA MAMA! Hanlon has just landed perhaps the biggest move in this match.
Richard Parker: Whoa mama? Are you gonna start making obscure pop culture references now too?
Nick Stuart: The heck you on about, Richard?
Richard Parker: I don’t know. I think Randall Schwartz just walked by me and I got a whiff of a different leg of the multiverse.
Hanlon goes for a quick cover…
Blueberry kicks out. Hanlon gets up to his feet and does the “touch ‘em all” hand signal before grabbing Sykes up, whipping him into the corner, stalking over briskly and leaning into Blueberry’s chest with his ham-hock hands with huge knife-edge chops.
Richard Parker: King Blueberry really dazed right now, I thought for sure he might have had time to slide out of the corner.
Nick Stuart: We all know he’s got a lot simmering in his brain right now. Rhine in the hospital. Reina Raspberry clearly angry at him. Paxton Ray laughing in the face of justice. This is just a confluence of all the worst things in his life combining into a mighty river.
After five or six chops, Hanlon seats Blueberry on the top turnbuckle and climbs. He yells to the crowd before hooking Sykes up for the big superplex with panache, baby. He floats over into a cover…
The Tag Champ kicks out. Hanlon pops to his feet with Sykes still on the mat, and he beckons to the crowd, getting a muted cheer. Not because they don’t love Hayes – they do. It’s just they also really love their King.
Nick Stuart: Hayes looking for approval, and I think he’s got enough to do what he wants to do.
Richard Parker: Look, that kid playing the hero against Blueberry was always going to be a tough sell, but now? I’m shocked the crowd is that split.
Nick Stuart: Hey, it’s not Hayes’ fault all this happened. But I digress…
Hanlon bends over and locks in…
Nick Stuart: THE NORTHWEST NECKTIE!
Hanlon has that Tequila Sunrise in tight with a look on his face better fit for an all-night bender at the Velvet Rabbit with three strippers, his brother Paul, a pile of coke, and guy in a Steely McBeam costume. Why Steely McBeam? I don’t know, it just fits Hanlon’s entire vibe. He’s enjoying it way, way, way too much.
Nick Stuart: Hanlon has that move cinched in! Can King Blueberry inch to the ropes before he has to give in?
Richard Parker: Hanlon doesn’t have positioning in the center of the ring. If anyone can get there, it’s that wiry rascal Sykes!
Blueberry makes one desperate reach for the bottom rope, and he does! Timo calls for the hold to be broken, and Hanlon obliges at first warning. Sykes uses the ropes to get to his feet, but Hanlon is sizing him up for a Big Bossman-style hip attack in the ropes.
Nick Stuart: This could be the end for King Blueberry…
But at the last second, Sykes senses Hanlon and rolls on the middle rope to his left, causing the young former Five Star Champ to get hung up in the ropes.
Nick Stuart: This could be the break one-half of our Tag Team Champions has been looking for!
Richard Parker: I just hope for Hanlon’s sake that whatever club he heads to after the show has champagne on ice, and less for the champagne.
Hayes gingerly extricates himself from the ropes, but he walks right into a waiting King Blueberry, cocked and firing with a right jab worthy of Muhammad Ali. Hanlon goes cross-eyed, staggers a little bit, and holds up his right index finger before falling stiffly to the canvas…
Richard Parker: TIMMMMMMBUUUUUUUUUUUURRR!!!!
Hanlon hits the mat like a ton of bricks. The King catches his breath for a moment, partially to recover from being in the Northwest Necktie for a bit and partially because he has to think of what he wants to do. Most of his signature offense targets the neck. He doesn’t want to injure the poor lad; they’re both on Team Jonathan. Ah, Team Jonathan, there’s an idea…
Nick Stuart: Hanlon getting to his feet, and Blueberry is stalking him. What could he be cooking up here?
Another punch, only this time, he’s gone southpaw. Then another. Then a third left jab before a lightning quick pivot on his right foot to complete the familiar, but not to Sykes, striking combo. About fifteen minutes after this match ends up finishing, Hanlon will swear that at this moment, he heard Fozzy’s “Judas” playing in his head. He falls to the mat while Sykes appeals to the crowd, which roars its approval.
Hanlon slowly rises to his feet, only to have the King greet him with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Instinctively, Blueberry charges to the ropes, jumps on the second cable, and flips back.
Nick Stuart: Is that… the New Life Moonsault??!?!
Richard Parker: I don’t believe it! I don’t fall for stunts like these, but man…
He makes the cover…
Hayes kicks out later in the two count than he had been earlier in the match. Blueberry again rises to his feet, laying in wait behind the Event Horizon, who is rising, back turned to his opponent. The King takes a running start, vaults into the air while doing a forward somersault, grabbing onto the young libertine’s neck…
Nick Stuart: BREATHTAKER! KING BLUEBERRY IS PAYING TRIBUTE TO JONATHAN RHINE HERE IN THE MAIN EVENT, AND THE GRAND GARDEN ARENA IS COMING UNGLUED!
Rather than going for the pin, Jared waits again for Hanlon to get up. He has one more move he needs to hit before he feels he can put this one away. Hayes is up. The King locks his hand across his chest, hoisting his opponent into the air and spinning into the…
Nick Stuart and Richard Parker, simultaneously: RHINE REWIND!
He floats over seamlessly into the cover.
ONE! (the match is won)
TWO! (I hope you’re seeing this, Jon)
Hanlon gets a shoulder up at the last possible second! The arena is stunned! King Blueberry can’t believe it!
Nick Stuart: SO CLOSE! If that had ended the match, there may not have been a Grand Garden Arena left after the three count.
Richard Parker: Look, normally, I’m ripping on both these goofballs during the match, but this is exciting as heck! Praise Hoyt for this action. What am I saying?
Jared Sykes rises to his feet once more, looking for a way to put this feisty young lion to bed for good. He’d have to do it himself, with an implement from his own toolbox. Hanlon rises to his feet, turns around, shakes the cobwebs out for what seems to be the millionth time this match, only to walk right into the grasp of a waiting King Blueberry.
The Third Degree…
Hanlon has fight left in him, using a right elbow to Blueberry’s right temple three times to buy him some distance. After getting air between them, Hayes charges right back in, arm outstretched.
If were Japan, Nick Stuart would be saying “LARIATOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!” right about now.
Blueberry turns inside out and hits the canvas like a sack of dirty laundry fresh from the car ride home from college. Rather than go for the pin, Hanlon climbs the turnbuckle…
Nick Stuart: Big man going to the top, this could spell doom for King Blueberry…
Richard Parker: Or for Hayes Hanlon! Go for it, but you gotta know the risks!
Hayes slaps his right elbow with his left hand, leaps, and drives the point right into Blueberry’s chest. The Tag Team Champ unnaturally convulses until Hanlon shoots the half, hooks the leg, and wrangles him under control against his will for the cover…
THR… NO! Timo’s hand hits the mat AFTER Jared kicks out. The match continues. It’s Hayes’ turn to slam the mat this time.
Nick Stuart: Young man letting his emotions ride high! He has a win over the current Universal Champion under his belt, but you gotta believe beating yet another member of the PRIME firmament is on his mind.
Richard Parker: Well, if he doesn’t win here, at least he did beat Jiles, that lousy no-good crumb!
Nick Stuart: Careful, Jiles might hear you from where he’s sitting.
Hanlon doesn’t wait for Blueberry to get to his feet. He staggers over, sucking wind, and grabs the Tag Champ to put him on his back, Sid Phillips-style. He scans the crowd, cracks his neck, and then…
…yeah, that’s a 9 out of 10 on the Powerbomb Siddy scale. King Blueberry receives an instant flashback, and not the good kind. Cover.
TH… even closer than the last one, but the kickout is still emphatic.
Nick Stuart: I don’t know what it’s going to take for either one of these men to put the other away, but this is a main event befitting the GREATEST wrestling promotion on the planet right now.
Richard Parker: I’m starting to sweat up here, and I’m only describing the action. Jesus.
Hayes rises to his feet and mock-slashes his throat with his thumb. It’s time to finish the job, he thought. He yanks King Blueberry to his feet and whips him towards the ropes. Pop up.
Hayes’ overzealousness gets the best of him, and the King is able to carry his momentum forward so that he clears the former Five Star Champion, landing behind him. They both turn around to face each other at the same time, and that’s when Jared Sykes did the unthinkable, at least to his opponent.
Nick Stuart: LISTEN TO THAT IMPACT! King Blueberry just LIT UP Hanlon’s chest with that overhead chop!
Richard Parker: Uh, that look on Hanlon’s face…
Parker’s description undersold it. Hayes Hanlon looks as if he’s offended that of all moves, Jared Sykes would throw an overhand chop this late in the match. All his fatigue and body damage don’t matter. His nostrils flare and he returns with an overhead chop of his own across the King’s chest, welted from the corner chop flurry earlier in the match. The Tag Champ staggers back a bit, but his veins are flowing with just as much adrenaline as his opponent’s. He throws another chop. Hanlon returns with one of his own.
And they enter a feedback loop of overhand chops across each other’s chests.
Nick Stuart is having a near aneurysm calling the action. Richard Parker covers his eyes; he cannot bear to watch the chests becoming redder than the flag in Ivan Stanislav’s struggle bunker. Both men’s knees begin to wobble, but either through shared psychosis, brain cells awash in too much testosterone and adrenaline, or some macho bravado that escapes anyone who isn’t a male wrestler (supported by the look of horror on Justine Calvin’s masked face), they keep hacking at each other, not intending to stop until one of them slumps onto the canvas.
Or both of them.
And both of them eventually do end up on their knees, exhausted, spent. They spend a moment, raw chests leaning on each other before hitting the mat in comatose limpness.
Nick Stuart: You can uncover your eyes now, Richard.
Richard Parker: Oh the carnage. Oh the humanity. My Hoyt.
Timo Bolamba starts his count.
Richard Parker: And I thought this match was going to remain friendly!
Nick Stuart: In way, I think always has been. Sometimes, emotion gets the better of you, and you have to prove something, not just to the other guy, but to yourself. They’ll still shake hands afterwards.
Nick Stuart: But you still want to win the match. Ironically? This might cost both of them the win.
Shockingly, despite giving up 60 pounds to the stocky Hanlon lad, Jared is the first to move. He starts his way to the ropes, snake-crawling across the canvas. Hanlon grabs his chest, and then as if he was late for school with Timo’s voice as the piercing bell of his alarm clock in his ear, he jolts towards the ropes himself.
They’re both on their knees, leaning on the ropes.
At the last possible second, both men are on their feet. The senior official adjudges them to be fit to continue, and they stagger over to each other. They eye each other up and… it’s another collar-and-elbow tie-up.
Nick Stuart: And here’s our match reset! Both men are worse for wear, but oddly enough, it feels like they could go for another half-an-hour!
This tie-up is weaker than before, and Hanlon cannot exert his size. Reaching into the depths of his jellies, King Blueberry lifts a knee into Hayes’ gut and snapmares him onto a seated position.
Grabs him once more to his feet.
Nick Stuart: Oh my, could we see the Third Degree here now?
Instead, Blueberry connects with a European Uppercut, the triceps connecting underneath the jaw of Hanlon. Hayes’ head snaps backwards as he stumbles backwards from the shot and into the ropes. Blueberry gingerly walks over to Hayes and connects with a striking elbow to the jaw of Hanlon before he whips him into the ropes. Blueberry then bounces off the ropes himself and both men have the same idea at the same time as they both connect with clotheslines on one another.
Their bodies crash into one another in a sickening thud before they slam into the mat and they grab their wracked bodies in pain.
Richard Parker: Well, that’s not going to help improve anything.
Nick Stuart: I wouldn’t think so.
Both men roll around on the mat as Timo checks on both of them before beginning ANOTHER ten count.
Hanlon grabs the bottom rope while Blueberry rolls onto his stomach.
Hanlon pulls himself up using the middle rope while Blueberry pushes his groaning body up using his arms.
Hanlon is able to make it up to his feet while Blueberry leans into the ropes and sighs. Bolamba checks both wrestlers and stops his count. Blueberry rushes at Hanlon, who looks out of it.
Except he’s not.
He wraps his hands around Blueberry’s throat, lifts him into the air, turns 180 degrees, and hammers him into the mat.
Nick Stuart: THE EPOCH! THE EPOCH!
Richard Parker: There’s no getting up from that, no siree.
Then, Hanlon looks around the arena before his eyes lock with the Universal Champion, Cancer “Crumb” Jiles, who is enjoying the proceedings with a smug smile. He mockingly claps at Hanlon’s big finish. He grimaces as he inches towards Blueberry, looking to drape an arm over his chest in order to gain the victory.
Yet, he will not get that opportunity.
Nick Stuart: What is going on?!
Richard Parker: Look, look. In the crowd!
Suddenly, a man in black leather pants, a black shirt and black leather jacket slides into the ring. He’s also sporting a black ski mask so no one can tell who he is. The man sees Hanlon trying to make a pinfall attempt.
And the masked man immediately performs a splash to both Blueberry and Hanlon, forcing the referee to call for the bell.
DING DING DING