The camera shifts to the back hallways of the MGM Grand Garden Arena, where Ria Nightshade walks with labor back from her opening match victory over Larry Tact. Suddenly, none other than The Anglo Luchador, dressed in a blue golf shirt with a red/white/blue “TAL for Extreme” logo on the left breast and khaki pants, accosts her, an audible groan from Richard Parker at the commentary table.
TAL: Hey, great job out there tonight! You looked good. I think it’s really going to help our Q score and…
Ria: (interrupting) Our what? What the hell are you babbling about?
TAL: Oh, nothing. I forget that wrestlers generally don’t give a hoot about this real inside beltway stuff like Q scores or polls or deep state dark money. Man, I wish I had some deep state dark money right about now. I could order a pizza with pepperoni made from the pork they get from pigs that they farm jamon iberico from. But that’s besides the point.
Ria: You had a point, old man?
TAL: Yes! Now that you’re done with Tact, you can help me do some phone banking to reach out to prospective voters in the Intense Championship ballot.
Ria: First of all, I don’t know what the hell phone banking is. Secondly, pretty sure people simply following PRIME are fully aware at this point that we want the Intense Championship match. Third, no. I’m not doing that, whatever it is.
TH: This is a team effort, you know, two to tango. I thought the younger generation would know a thing or two about the importance of voting since it was you guys who flipped Georgia blue. Phone banking is calling potential voters and trying to sway…
Ria: (interrupting again) Dude, shut the hell up! What’s even the point of this? Why the hell do you even need me involved? In fact, why me at all? You try to act like we’re buddy buddy or some shit, but then you’re willing to step in the ring and potentially shorten my career? That’s on brand for me, not so much you. So what is it? You screwing with me? That stupid crap with IcyHot however long ago actually cause some resentment? Or maybe that other geezer Phil Atken might be right about you?
TAL: Do you understand deathmatch wrestling? The camaraderie that can come from it?
Ria shoots the old luchador a nasty look.
TAL: But no, I don’t hate you, and I am not screwing with you. This is a golden opportunity for you as much as it is for me.
Ria: I’m well aware of what it means for both of us. Your logic still doesn’t make a damn bit of sense. We could just have a regular match if this is a respect or adoration thing. I have to ask if YOU understand deathmatch wrestling? Cuz I don’t grab beers with an opponent I just smashed with a light tube. So if it’s not hate or resentment, then why?
There is a pregnant pause in the air. Frustration wells in the old luchador’s eyes.
TAL: Because… BECAUSE I need to find a way to level up. I need to find the strength I had way back when. To hurt Balaam. To hurt Hoyt. I need it.
Ria shakes her head.
Ria: There it is… Just using me to help yourself. I knew this comradery bullshit was just that. Ya know what? I really hope we get this match. That way, I really can retire your stupid old ass! I’m done playing games with you! Atken was right… I’m gonna hurt you and I’m gonna enjoy every single minute of it, you manipulative piece of shit! I hate you…
Ria storms off.
TAL: Wait, no, I didn’t mean it like that! I’m…
His shoulders slowly slump. His neck cranes down.
The old luchador lets out a belabored sigh before rising and turning around. There he faces a random door with a sign hastily scotch-taped to the door with the words “PHONE BANK AREA – DO NOT DISTURB” written on it in Sharpie. He opens the door and looks upon the tables with old-style Bakelite rotary telephones on them that he set up. Various volunteers are there helping working the phones. There are the children’s television megastars and former ne’er-do-wells of the wrestling world, Beef, El Janito, and Steve, collectively known as Mega Job. Rezin is busy trying to unscrew the speakers on the receiver to look for… substances. GREAT SCOTT is trying to dial the phone, but his meaty fingers cannot get through the holes on the rotary wheel, while GREAT BEAR sits behind him, jamming out to lo-fi beats to chill to in his sick Beats by Dre headphones, out of respect to those working hard making phone calls. Mushigihara sits across from GREAT SCOTT, squinting at the contact list. Sitting to his right are the married couple of his tag partner David Fox and Saori. The Anglo Luchador’s brother Mikey, as well as the former Sephiroth and Joey Baggadonuts, seem to be the only ones doing their jobs correctly.
The old luchador steps to the front-center of the room in front of his loyal cadre of volunteers.
TAL: Thank you everyone for helping me out. As you know, phone banking is an important part of the electoral process. Your contributions to my campaign will not go unnoticed, especially by you, GREAT SCOTT, putting aside your own campaign as a sign of goodwill. If I win the Intense Championship, I will give you the first shot out of gratitude.
GREAT SCOTT: YOU ARE A REALLY GREAT GUY ANGLODOOR I AM TOTALLY OKAY WITH HELPING YOU WIN ANYTHING YOU WANT BUT ACTUALLY IT IS CALLED THE IMPULSE CHAMPIONSHIP SORRY TO BE A GRAMMAR NAZI. .
TAL: I think it’s actually… you know what, forget about it. I’m just glad you’re here. Anyway, I’m sorry I couldn’t get those fancy Cisco smart landline phones, but of the $250,000 I raised through the Throwback BJGA PAC I set up, only $3,000 was available. I guess that’s what I get for letting Roderick McRatrick talk me into letting him head it up.
The camera smash cuts to Roderick driving a Lamborghini Countash on I-70 somewhere in Colorado.
Roderick McRatrick: LINDSAY TROY WILL NEVER CATCH ME ALIVE.
Smash cut back to the phone bank room.
TAL: These rotary phones are all I could afford. I hope they’re not too much of an inconvenience for you guys. Okay, does anyone have any ques…
Rezin butts in.
Rezin: YA!! Where they keep the cash in this thing?!
TAL: Cash? Ummm, are you in the right place?
Rezin: This is the BANK, right?! The one they keep in the PHONE! I need to make a withdrawal, and this damb thing won’t take my pin number!
The Goat Bastard dials the combination of zero-four-two-zero, to no discernable result. He impatiently taps the switch.
Joey Baggadonuts: Uh, buddy, I hates ta break it to youse, but um, dis ain’t a money bank. We gotta call people to get ‘em to vote for my paisan ovah heeyah. I know, I was a little confused too.
Rezin unleashes a groan as his eyes roll.
Rezin: Uugghh… okay, I’ll partake in your Capitalist brainwashing scam, but ONLY for twenty bucks and a lid! And… AND! A bar of soap! But nothing with triclosan in it!
TAL: How about you can use my medical marijuana card for the weekend and I give you some hand sanitizer.
Rezin: YOU DRIVE A HARD BARGAIN, Mr. Anonymous, or whatever you call yourself these days!
The old luchador hands over his card and a 5 oz. bottle of Spring Mint hand sanitizer to The Escape Artist.
TAL: Alright, now that that’s out of the way, I’m going to come around to the different groups and see how you’re doing.
The luchador walks first over to children’s television icons Mega Job. Beef is wearing a pirate’s hat, because of course he is. El Janito, in his snazzy suit, looked incredibly confused (so what else is new?). Steve isn’t even bothering with the correct phones, he instead seems to be playing some sort of word game on his phone.
TAL: How are things going over here, guys?
Beef: I’m givin’ it all she’s got, cap’n, but she cannae take much more!
El Janito: What the hell is with these new-fangled phones and these new-age rotary mechanisms?! Back in my day, we just used smartphones!
TAL: Well, I didn’t want you to drain your batteries or incur data charges? A lot of cheapskates here in PRIME who may not pay for unlimited data. You know I heard one of the eGG Bandits washes paper plates from the advance on the Rumor Mills. I’m not sure how reliable those reports are though, but I can see it. From any one of the three of them. Anyway, I’m rambling. How many people have you called so far?
Beef: Uh, negative two.
El Janito: We actually uncalled people.
You can’t see him furrowing his brow because he’s wearing a mask, but trust me, the omniscient narrator here, the old luchador is furrowing his brow right now.
TAL: Well, uh, the night is young. Thanks for your… you know what, maybe take a powder and let Steve do all the work? Thanks.
The luchador doesn’t even wait for a response before moseying on over to the Dangerous Mix table.
TAL: David! Saori! Mushi! Thank you so much for helping out here. How are you guys holding the line?
Mushi raises his hand, as he is in the middle of a call and seems to be engulfed in the topic at hand.
Mushigihara: Hmmmm, Oooooooosu.
He snaps his head up in surprise and slams his meaty paws onto the table.
Saori Kazama: Impressive. That guy’s entire block, huh?
David Fox chuckles and shrugs.
David Fox: You know how the big man does. Smarter than he lets on, he could sell snow to a penguin. I’m just glad we were able to put in work for a noble cause, my dude. Sorry about the confusion over the whole “Anglo” thing, by the way. Tiocfaidh ár lá and all that stuff, y’know?
TAL: It’s fine, I understand. The whole “anglo” thing was just a way for them to call me “white” without saying I was a “gringo.” I think they liked me. Anyway, I’ve been meaning to ask, what does “osu” mean anyway?
David Fox: What do you mean?
TAL: It’s the only thing he says. Is it like an “I am Groot” thing where the tone of voice denotes what he means?
Mushigihara seems to have finished his call, as he is pulling his headset off and whistling to himself.
David Fox: Let’s ask him. Hey, big man. Anglo wanted to know about your speech deal.
With a nod, the God-Beast smiles at TAL and responds with a cool, calm, and friendly…
TAL blinks three times and is taken back in surprise.
TAL: Huh. I honestly didn’t expect to understand all that. That’s… enlightening. Thanks!
He smiles even wider, as if to say “don’t mention it!” The old luchador turns around to check in on GREAT SCOTT, still hard at work trying to dial the rotary phone.
TAL: And how are you doing over here, Scott?
GREAT SCOTT: I’M GREAT.
TAL: Well yes, but I meant, uh, how are you doing with the phone calls?
GREAT SCOTT: I HAVE NOT MADE ANY PHONE CALLS THIS PHONE IS NOT LIKE MY IPHONE 15 AT ALL IT DOES NOT EVEN HAVE DOORDASH.
TAL: That’s because it’s an old-school rotary phone. Do you even know how to use one?
GREAT SCOTT: MY DAD WAS A MEMBER OF THE ROTARY BUT HE WAS MURDERED BY THE MAFIA SO I NEVER GOT TO LEARN THE SECRETS.
The old luchador muttered something under his breath that no one, even GREAT SCOTT, could not hear, but I assure you, it probably wasn’t congratulatory.
TAL: I’m sorry for your loss. Anyway, um, could you at least try dialing a number with that phone?
GREAT SCOTT: MAYBE YOU COULD TRY PUTTING MY PENIS IN YOUR MOUTH BITCH I AM FUCKING GREAT SCOTT I AM NOT A SECRETARY I WILL FIGHT YOU ON THE GODDAMNED MOON.
Instantly, GREAT SCOTT is embarrassed about his outburst. He slumps down a little in his chair, his face turning slightly flush.
GREAT SCOTT: SORRY ANGLODOOR THAT WAS NOT A PROPORTIONATE RESPONSE TO A REASONABLE REQUEST. SOMETIMES WHEN YOU ARE GREAT LIKE ME GREAT SCOTT AND YOU FIND SOMETHING YOU DO NOT EXCEL AT, YOU REACT WITH HOSTILITY INSTEAD OF HUMILITY. MY SINCERE APOLOGIES. I WILL MAKE THE CALLS AND MASTER THE ROTARY CLUB.
TAL: That’s all I can really ask, I guess.
You can’t see it, but there’s a vein twitching on the old luchador’s forehead. He nods at GREAT BEAR, who is still chilling with lo-fi beats and is not paying him any mind, and then moseys over towards the temporary bane of his existence, Rezin.
TAL: I don’t suppose you made any progress, did you?
The Goat Bastard sets down the receiver of his own phone. As a true child of the eighties, he knows how rotaries work.
Rezin: I am pleased to report that I got ya at least FIVE canceled Disney Plus subscriptions! Solid win for the little guy, amirite?! Take THAT, Capitalism!
TAL: Okay, I’m going to try to be as polite as possible here. Was I not clear when I said you were supposed to be calling prospective voters to cast their ballot for me and Ria Nightshade to be the Intense Championship Match at Great American Nightmare?
Rezin: I’m just sayin’, you could just skip the whole corrupt democratic process thing and just take over by way of anarchist revolution! We can call you “El Anglodente” and give you a sweet beret and shit!
TAL: I did a Generalissimo Anonymous gimmick in Yucatan Pro, it went over like a lead balloon. Anyway, I just had one thing to ask. One El Santo-forsaken thing and…
Rezin: LOOK, dude, cut me slack here! I literally have NO idea what I’m doin’ here, and I’m only doin’ this cause Olvir tells me I desperately need a tax write-off! THAT, and I was told there’d be free pizza!
Rezin grumbles as he painstakingly dials ten whole numbers on the phone and holds the receiver to his ear, casting an annoyed glare at the luchador looming over him. Someone picks up on the other end, and Rezin recites from the script in a monotone voice.
Rezin: Good afternoon, sir or madam, and how are you today? Do you have a moment to speak about our lord and savior, the Anglo Luchador?
TAL: Someone please fire a pneumatic hammer into the back of my head and put me out of my misery.
“Sephiroth:” That can be arranged.
The old luchador looks over at the former MBE also-ran who flew a little too close to the copyright sun, who is standing in front of fire like in the popular game Final Fantasy VII. The fire is emanating from Mega Job’s table, with Beef trying to put it out by waving a towel at it, El Janito having fainted on top of one of the phones, and Steve just yelling “IDIOTS” over and over.
TAL: This is the worst goddamn day ever, and I still have to wrestle Phil Atken. Could it get any worse?
It gets worse. A whole lot worse.
Mushigihara: Osu? OSU, OSU!
David Fox: I’ve only heard him this angry once before. Oh no…
Rezin: …and if you send Mr. Anonymous half your life savings, you get a beer koozie, absolutely free.
Joey Baggadonuts: Are you talkin’ to me? Are you talkin’ to me?
GREAT SCOTT: (breathing heavily, seated fist through the broken pieces of an old-style rotary telephone in front of him, with GREAT BEAR still chilling behind him in his sick Beats by Dre headphones)
Steam is almost visible coming out the earholes of the old luchador’s mask.
The room comes to attention. The fire magically extinguishes itself. Sephiroth comes to his senses.
TAL: I asked you all here to do one thing and one thing only, and you couldn’t even do that correctly. If you didn’t want to help me phone bank, you could have just said no, it’s not my thing. Do you know the hellfreakin’ butt-lord of a day I’ve had so far? Most of it was my fault, sure, but you cretins COULD HAVE HELPED ALLEVIATE SOME OF THAT.
Saori Kazama: Guys, I think we should get outta here.
TAL: NO, stay, do whatever you want. Mikey, order some pizzas, put it on my credit card. As many toppings as these guys want. I gotta get outta here. Like, NOW.
The old luchador leaves the room, slamming the door behind him. Mikey stands up and looks around.
GREAT SCOTT: I WOULD LIKE A LOT OF PEPPERONI PLEASE BUT ALSO ONE WITH NO PEPPERONI BECAUSE GREAT BEAR KEEPS KOSHER AND I DO NOT WANT TO SEE WHAT HE WILL DO IF WE MAKE HIM DEFY THE LAWS OF HIS GOD.
The camera throws it back up to the commentary table.
Richard Parker: You know, I’d feel bad for The Anglo Luchador if I didn’t hate him more than any other person in this company outside of Cancer Jiles.
Nick Stuart: You heard it here first, folks, Richard Parker has the beginnings of a soul developing. Now let’s throw it to the ring for some tag team action!