Nick Stuart: What a way to kick off ReVival 6 with that amazing match between Redding and Mephisto.
Richard Parker: Praise Hoyt for such classic action.
Nick Stuart: Speaking of Hoyt, his most recent nemesis, The Anglo Luchador, sent some footage to the PRIME office from earlier today outside the MGM Grand. Folks, you’re going to want to see this.
The screen fades into the area outside the MGM Grand with an “Earlier today” disclaimer at the top left corner of the screen, on a makeshift stage festooned in American flag bunting. A classic marching band recording of “Stars and Stripes Forever” blasts on the speakers set up bookending a banner that has “TAL for Intense” crudely painted on it. Campaign volunteers, all wearing red, white, or blue polo shirts with khaki shorts and wearing “TAL for Intense” buttons, hand out campaign literature to passersby. Some have even gathered around the stage, waiting to see what will come next. Among the throng are PRIME wrestlers Ria Nightshade and Dusk, Winds of Change manager Baron von Blackberry, PRIME backstage reporters Simon Tillier and Angelica Brooks, independent wrestling reporter Jax Mollineaux, and various liaisons from Melvin Beauregard’s office. Also, there are three men holding sniper rifles wearing hi-visibility vests that say “Roderick Control” on them.
A man in a three-piece suit waltzes onto the stage to the podium.
Campaign Manager: Hello everyone, and welcome to The Rally to Make The Anglo Luchador’s Match at the Great American Nightmare the Intense Championship Match, or, for those who like shorthand, the “TAL for Intense” rally! I know you’re all here because you either support our friend and hero in his quest to win the most extreme belt in PRIME or because you saw a big spectacle and got some free swag from our staff. Either way, we hope that by the end of this, you’re convinced that The Anglo Luchador should compete for the Intense Championship at the Great American Nightmare!
The crowd gives a tepid cheer, partly because they’re still processing this information, partly because Vegas is uncharacteristically overcast and yet still hot enough to choke an armadillo.
Campaign Manager: And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, it’s the Anglo Luchador!
“Oye Como Va” by Santana starts playing on the speakers, and The Anglo Luchador steps out from behind curtains wearing a snazzy pinstriped suit with an American-flag variant of his lucha mask. His arms are outstretched welcoming a reaction he expected to be a little more enthusiastic.
Baron von Blackberry starts vibing. Nobody asked him to.
The old luchador meanwhile steps to the podium.
TAL: Friends, PRIMEates, countrymen, lend me your ears! I have an important announcement to make and a campaign that I need your vital support for. Four score and seven years ago, give or take the four score at least, PRIME was the standard-bearer in all of professional wrestling. Wrestlers like Brandon Youngblood and Karina Wolfenden, Jason Snow and Doctor Curiosity, Nova and Tchu, all of them shed blood and sweat and tears in service of providing the best gladiatorial action the world has seen since the epic rivalry of Christians vs. Lions in the Roman Coliseum.
Jax Mollineaux: (interrupting from the crowd) How DARE you make such an insensitive comment about Christianity mere five days after Easter Sunday!
TAL: (ignoring him) Throughout her storied and wondrous history, the Universal Champion of PRIME, held now by Youngblood but in the past by such luminaries as Chandler Tsonda, Killean Sirrajin, and the current CEO of the company, Lindsay Troy, has denoted a standard of excellence that has rarely been surpassed in the history of this great sport. However, there are two other titles that denote excellence in specific disciplines within the squared circle. The first is the Five Star Championship, held by plucky upstart rookie Hayes Hanlon. Can we get a round of applause for Mr. Hanlon, who worked hard to get to levels some wrestlers work their entire careers to get within sniffing distance of?
Most of the crowd applauds except for Mollineaux, who is disgusted by the pandering, and Ria Nightshade, who isn’t impressed by anything it seems.
TAL: The Five Star Championship, which by its name denotes a mastery of technical wrestling as outlined in star ratings by luminary journalists like Tim Tillinghast or someone in the audience here…
Mollineaux’s face starts to beam.
TAL: …Angelica Brooks, lead broadcast journalist and podcaster, is but one such division that recognizes excellence in a specialized category. The other is the Intense Championship.
Some hooligans in the back of the crowd, already day-drunk off the free beverages served to gamblers on the casino floor, start chanting “HE’S HARDCORE! HE’S HARDCORE!”
TAL: That’s right my good friends back there, I can be pretty hardcore, but don’t blow my spot. Anyway, throughout my career, I’ve prided myself on technical excellence, which is why I have dedicated my life to the art of lucha libre. However, there is a darker, seedier side to lucha that is just as vibrant as the colorful masks trading submission holds and cleanly tossing opponents with armdrags. And this history of violence in lucha, whether it be in bloody luchas de apuestas in main events of the most sacred halls down to companies like Club de Matanza de Baja California Sur, where battle takes place in a junkyard, is where my heart tells me to pursue. And it all has roots in the Aztec culture that has adopted me, the progeny of Italian immigrants…
Ria: Hey! I’m looking around and can’t find the point. How ‘bout you get there, grandpa?
TAL: You’re going to have to let me finish. This would never happen to Abraham Lincoln, who was a fellow wrestler and who probably would be the only person ever to hold public office who would have a chance at dethroning Youngblood for the Universal Championship right now. I digress. The Aztecs were a society where violence was ingrained in the culture. It’s only right that I honor that violence by throwing my hat into the ring. I want my match at Great American Nightmare to be the Intense Championship Match. That’s where you, the voters, come in. Melvin Beauregard has announced that the match that wins a fan vote. I need you to let me spread my wings, my bloody, ultraviolent, wrapped-in-barbed wire wings. Now, I see there are some journalists, peers, and other concerned onlookers in the crowd. I open the floor to my constituency.
Simon Tillier is the first to raise his hand, but independent journalist Jax Mollineaux belly bumps him and raises his hand.
Mollineaux: Excuse me, Mr. Luchador.
TAL: Anyone but him.
Mollineaux: YOU WILL RESPECT MY AUTHORITY. I AM AN INDEPENDENT JOURNALIST.
TAL: Will you stop printing lies about me in your newsletter if I let you ask a question?
TAL: Good enough for me.
Mollineaux: Okay then, you repeated the right wing talking point that the Aztec culture is barbaric. When will you come to court for your racism?
TAL: I really should not answer this question, but I didn’t say their violence was bad. They waged ritualistic war and sacrificed humans because they thought it would make the sun come up. That’s not an opinionated statement; that’s fact. Personally, I think they would have evolved past the need for waging war as a religious ceremony had they gotten the chance, but the Spanish made sure they wouldn’t have that. I am just honoring their dedication to spilling blood by making sure mine and various opponents of mine spill ours. Next question.
A man wearing a lab coat and no shirt rises to his feet, raising his hand as he does so. Also, he has a fruit on his head. Probably should’ve led with that.
Baron von Blackberry: AHAHA! Yes. Hello. I am the great and mighty and absolutely perfect Baron von Blackberry, representing the scenic, yet diabolical nation of Fruitsylvania, and its newsletter, the Daily Banana. HELLO. Anyway, as a keen observer of the goings-on of everything that has to do with Intense, I must ask if you will be bringing back the dreaded Pyramid of Peril, a setting so extreme that nobody has thought to ever again bury an evil pyramid underneath an actual sports arena so that two combatants can attempt to escape its confines despite booby-traps, mummies, and diabolical curses. Your thoughts?
TAL: Ah, yes, glad to finally see your… fruited face? Is that the right word? Anyway, Herr von Blackberry, I enjoy our interactions on Jabber. As for your question, um, well, I think if we were in the elden days of PRIME where the money flowed independently of streaming sources or venues, we might be able to have an arena built upon a buried pyramid. Given that I’m not entirely sure the MGM Corporation would approve of such an undertaking for a singular match, I regrettably must doubt that this match could come to fruition. That is, unless I can somehow convince Lindsay Troy to dump a bunch of dirt on Chichen Itza and let us have that match there. I make no promises though.
Baron von Blackberry places a hand under his chin, deep in thought.
Baron von Blackberry: Hm, yes. I may have severely overestimated the budget of PRIME. I may have to cancel my own ambitions to fund a pay-per-view taking place in a nuclear submarine. No further questions, I suppose.
Simon Tillier: Good afternoon, Simon Tillier with the PRIME interview crew. What do you think…
Right then, from the back of the crowd, a giant soda comes flying to the front, nailing Tillier in the back of the head. The junior interviewer collapses almost in slow motion from the cup containing at least 20 oz. if not more of diet cola.
TAL: DEAR GOD, someone get this man a medic!
Tillier: No, no, I’m fine, just wet, and totally dissuaded from asking my question now.
Baron von Blackberry: No, seriously, see a doctor. You might think you’re okay, but you might have type 2 diabetes now.
Tillier: I think it’s diet soda anyway, I’m fine!
Baron von Blackberry: Dear god, that might be worse!
Tillier: Wait, why?
The crowd grows restless, but The Anglo Luchador spreads his arms out to calm them down.
TAL: Let the good Baron explain himself. I’m actually interested to hear this too.
Baron von Blackberry: I mean, in a lot of ways, artificial sweetener is worse than sugar. Also, it tastes like rubbish. This has been your intense soda opinions with the great and mighty and absolutely perfect Baron von Blackberry.
TAL: You know, I have heard about the destructive effects of aspartame on the body. We should…
Tillier: JUST LEAVE ME ALONE. GAWD. I deal with enough of this as Rezin’s personal interviewer.
TAL: Fine, fine. Any more questions?
Out of the corner of his eye, the old luchador notices a large pine box sitting by the stage.
TAL: Is that a… coffin?
Guy in the Crowd: Yeah, and there’s a post-it note on there.
The guy snatches the note off the box and hands it to the old luchador.
TAL: The coffin belongs to… DUSK? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
The crowd gasps except for the drunk bros in the back laughing at the sheer absurdity of a coffin being labeled only with a post-it note.
TAL: Poor Dusk, I knew him so well. He was kin to me in this promotion, a man who was fighting age and mockery and Lindsay Troy’s fickle temper. I weep for his death. WEEP!
Angelica Brooks: I don’t mean to rain on your parade, but I don’t think he’s dead, or else Phil Atken wouldn’t be on the show this week?
TAL: Good point. So I assume you have a question?
Brooks: (remembering back to the ReV 5 press conference fiasco) I don’t know, are you going to let me ask it?
TAL: Yeah, sure. I’ve learned the error of my ways, and I sincerely apologize for my rude treatment of you. Truce?
Brooks: Truce. Anyway, you are campaigning for the Intense Championship match at Great American Nightmare. Do you have an opponent lined up?
TAL: Good question. Really good question, and I have an answer for you on that. Ready? Here goes.
The crowd waits with bated breath.
TAL: And that answer is “no.”
The crowd is flipped into confusion. Baron von Blackberry, who had been drinking a spot of tea in that moment, spits out his tea in a spray that just happens to catch Simon.
Tillier: OH GODDAMMIT NOT AGAIN.
The chatter gets loud but then is cut from the sass and vitriol of one Ria Nightshade like it was from the switchblade she carries on her person.
Ria: So lemme see if I got this right… You want the Intense Championship, a title I made my desire for clear very early on. Not only that, you don’t even have an opponent lined up?! What a load of BULLSHIT! I might not have the record to stake a claim here, but my ring work should speak for itself. That belt was MADE for someone like me!
I’ve been playing nice with you up to this point. I’m not gonna sit around and let your old washed up ass just arbitrarily decide you’re going for something I want! You want the Intense Championship? That’s fine, but you’re gonna have to go through me! Drag that decrepit bag of bones you call a body to the ring and try to keep that belt away from me!
TAL: That sounds like a challenge. One I’ve actually been waiting for. You heard it here first, folks. The Anglo Luchador vs. Ria Nightshade at Great American Nightmare. Vote for us to take it home.
Before Ria can speak up, the crowd starts roaring. She looks… happy at the news. Above the roar, Angelica Brooks gets on stage and grabs the microphone, knowing that’s the only way anyone can hear her.
Brooks: One more thing… what about Hoyt and Balaam? Things aren’t finished between you two!
TAL: (grabbing the microphone) Sorry, Brooksie, I, uh, I have nothing left to say at this rally. Vote TAL and Nightshade! Let the Intense Championship actually be Intense!
The old luchador escapes from the stage. The crowd begins to disperse, but not before ANOTHER masked individual walks by. Gordon Oliver Powell, known to fans who were around Primetime Central for GTT7 and the Infinite Gauntlet as the Phantom Republican, gawks at the political rally that has just taken place with his mammoth bodyguard Jeffords and his press secretary who oddly resembles Lisa Ann-playing-Sarah Palin Miss Maverick.
GOP: Ugh, it’s been done.
He walks off with the rest of the crowd as it disperses. The camera fades back to Nick and Rich.
Nick Stuart: Wow, huge news from earlier today!
Richard Parker: Every time I watch something featuring that imbecile, I get stupider, I swear to Hoyt.
Nick Stuart: No comment on that, Rich. Now let’s throw it backstage with a word from the Halls and Darin Zion.